India Women won the final match against South Africa by 1 wicket    Getty Images
India Women won the final match against South Africa by 1 wicket Getty Images

On logical grounds, if a a team remains unbeaten in a long tournament, it exemplifies their finest form. Mithali Raj s India Women ended the ICC Women s World Cup Qualifiers 2017 as the superlatives, receiving the Championship Trophy with a lot of excitement and joy. Harmanpreet Kaur s celebration after hitting the winning runs showed genuine happiness; the whole team coming on to the ground to hug their stand-in captain and saviour of the day was truly an emotional scene. But how will this benefit India in the mega tournament for which they qualified? Looking at their performance, there seem to be quite a few loopholes that Australia, England, New Zealand and West Indies will easily find out to defeat them. READ: Harmanpreet Kaur leads India to nail-biting victory against South Africa in final of ICC Women s World Cup Qualifiers 2017

What went well

1. Performance of young-brigade: India missed out on a few core team members for the tournament. However, it gave them a chance to explore their bench-strength at large. The two names whose absence was bound to be felt were Jhulan Goswami and Smriti Mandhana. Smriti is not among the most experienced of the members of the side but she is one name consistent for the contemporary team across formats. With her stylish batting, she has made her own mark and cemented her spot at a very young age. Replacing her ahead of a high-intensity tournament was not the easiest of tasks but from time to time, players like Deepti Sharma and Mona Meshram stepped in and pulled off commendable jobs.

Devika Vaidya: Revelations for India have been two names: Devika Vaidya and Mansi Joshi. Devika s only appearance for India was against West Indies at home where she scored an impressive 32 not-out. She got a kick-start to her campaign with an 89-run knock against the hosts. Apart from batting, she also remained consistent with wickets when asked to bowl

Unnerved Mansi Joshi: Mansi looked unnerved representing India for the first time, that too, on such a big platform. Her fitness, darting action, and consistent pace all look promising to become the next big pacer. She can be the find for India.

Deepti Sharma s brilliance: Another name that needs mention is Deepti Sharma. The 19-year-old s innings in the tournament were 54, 89, 9, 1, 29*, 71. Three crucial half-centuries at the time of need make her one of the prized members of the side. Another fact will be her bowling that fetches wickets consistently. Bowling in six matches in the tournament, she bagged four wickets .

2. Seniors taking up responsibility: India knew the importance of the tournament and what the senior players needed to do. Mithali Raj, India s all-time great batter, showed her class leading the side by example. She let the new girls open to give them their share of international experience and demoted herself to middle-order to be their wall to fall back on in the time of need. Apart from her, Veda Krishnamurthy, Thirush Kamini, Harmanpreet Kaur did their bit with the bat. With the ball, Shikha Pandey led the pace attack well in the absence of Jhulan and guided the likes of Soni Yadav and Mansi. The spinners were also at their best.

3. Spinners and Sri Lanka, the eternal love story: When it is Sri Lanka, you need a completely different sub-head to write about what spinners did. India Women s team is proud to have its famed set of regular spinners and the tournament was just another opportunity for them to better their overseas records. No wonder, Ekta Bisht ended leading the table for her 13 scalps as the best bowler of the tournament. Rajeshwari Gayakwad picked up 7 in three matches, Poonam Yadav and Devika got 5 each in 5 games and Deepti Sharma took 4. The tally comes down to 34, ie over 69 per cent of the wickets taken by India.

Moments to rejoice:

1. Devika Vaidya s mystery ball: A delivery that left many stirred was the one bowled by Devika to Aliya Riaz of Pakistan. It was a fuller delivery that Devika pitched just outside the line of leg stump. While Aliya had sat down on back leg to play it to square leg, she was left clueless by the turn. The ball turned in to hit the leg stump, giving India a crucial wicket.

2. Veda Krishnamurthy s fielding: Veda has been among fittest in the side and puts in as much effort while batting as fielding. Placed at first slip, she has picked up many difficult catches. She added another feather to her cap during the match against Pakistan, picking up a one-handed catch diving to her left, that too after a good bit of fumble.

3. Ekta Bisht s record-breaking 5-for: The Pakistan match, which was being expected to be one of the close fights, turned out to be a one-sided victory for India. It all was possible mostly for the efforts of the bowling attack that restricted Pakistan within 60 and the major contributor being Ekta Bisht. Bisht s 5-for broke many records, making her the first India Women bowler to pull off such a task against Pakistan.

4. Thirush Kamini s century: There are innings that stand out of the entire scorecard and such an innings came off Thirush Kamini s bat in the match against Ireland. She became the fifth India Women s player to have scored more than one ODI centuries.

5. Harmanpreet s 41*, a leader s knock: What are the captains there for if they cannot take on responsibility and fight from the front when the team needs? That is exactly what both the captains Mithali and Harmanpreet showed in the tournament. While the former emerged among the highest run-getters of the tournament, Harmanpreet s unbeaten 41 under pressure in the final match took the side to victory in literal meaning.

What could have been better:

Though the team excelled and emerged as the best in the business, not everything was perfect for them . Highlighted here are a few facts:

1. Fielding: While the men s team has come a long way from being called the lousy fielders to one of the best teams on the field, their women s counterpart have a long way to go to achieve that. Though there have been examples of good stops and brilliant catches, they were too few compared to the faults they made. Sitters were dropped, runs came in overthrows.

2. Extras while bowling: Though the bowlers efforts were commendable, they also gave away too many runs. One prominent example is the match against Pakistan where the opponents score was 67, of which 24 were extra runs.

3. Over-dependency upon Mithali: Mithali missed out on the final match of the tournament which was a big blow for her side. Harmanpreet was made the stand-in captain. Apart from affecting India s game plan, the batting too looked to be out of elements in the middle-order. India lost wickets in quick succession once the partnership between Mona Meshram and Deepti Sharma was broken, India struggled to find a player to anchor the innings and play with Harmanpreet.

4. The wrong decisions: Though not as experienced as Mithali, Harmanpreet has a fair bit of experience of leading Indian side as she is the skipper in the Twenty20 International (T20I) format. India picked only one pacer for the crucial final match and left out Mansi, who had impressed one and all with her bowling. Shikha Pandey could not find a partner at the other end to match her rhythm as a slower Ekta Bisht was introduced from the other end. It all hampered both Shikha and Ekta s bowling, and resulted in some hammering from the South Africa side. India conceded three sixes in the first powerplay. Wrong field placements hampered fielding too.

But all is well that ends well:

However, a victory is always a victory. Playing a tournament such as this, India Women have now learnt their strengths and weaknesses well ahead of gala event that awaits later this year. They will have to rectify them before facing the best ones in the business while take the confidence from the victories and fruitful streak not to be afraid to face the big guns. Moreover, India must not get carried away with the victory but improve themselves even more to walk into the next big target at hand.