Can Indian Cricket’s Gender Problem be Solved by Mixed Games?

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Can Indian Cricket’s Gender Problem be Solved by Mixed Games?

Illustration: Ahmed Sikander

“G

irls can’t play cricket!” If I scored a run for every time I made that assertion growing up, I know for certain that my batting average would be higher than Ishant Sharma’s. It was a naïve assumption, based mostly on my experiences with my younger sister, who reacted to cricket bats like vampires to crucifixes. With time, however, and the benefit of an education, I’ve come to realise that my sister’s disdain for the game was a reflection of her personal tastes rather than an indictment of an entire gender.

Over the past year or so, I’ve been following the Indian women’s cricket team as closely as the men’s and have found myself being more impressed by Mithali Raj & Co than Virat and the gang. Back-to-back final appearances, including one victory, in the 2016 and 2018 edition of the Asia Cup, and a runners-up finish in last year’s World Cup have contributed to the rise in their popularity. The squad has hit a consistent rhythm, one which they will hope translates to positive results as they begin a bilateral series against Sri Lanka today. However, despite all this momentum and good press, the matches aren’t accompanied by the sort of fanfare that follows the men’s game around.

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