The Indian women's cricket team's golden performance at the 2023 Asian Games has not only earned India its first-ever Asiad medal in cricket. It has also put the onus on their male counterparts to replicate the feat on October 7, when the gold medal match of the multi-sport event will be played. With an eye on the 2023 ODI World Cup, the Indian cricket board has sent a significantly weaker men's team for the Hangzhou Asian Games. (Medal Tally | Schedule | Streaming | Full Coverage | More Cricket News)
India top-order batter Jemimah Rodrigues on Monday urged the men’s team to gun for gold after the women’s team created history in the final of the Asian Games. “We have spoken to the men's team. We have told them that we are bringing the gold; you guys also bring it,” Rodrigues said after the victory.
The Indian women’s team prevailed over Sri Lanka by 19 runs in the final to clinch the gold medal on their maiden appearance.
The Indian men's cricket team will begin their Asian Games 2023 campaign on October 3. They will directly play the quarterfinals against an undecided opponent (depending on who qualifies), by virtue of being the highest-ranked team at the event. The semifinals are scheduled for October 6, and the summit clash on October 7.
Rodrigues said the feeling of being the first Indian side to win gold is special. "Being the first Indian cricket side to win the gold will make people go back in history and see that this was the team that actually won the first-ever gold in cricket in the Asian Games. It's an amazing feeling," she added.
Representing your country at such a prestigious event is a big deal, but considering that India will not be fielding their first-choice men's team at the Asiad, it would appear that they are not according Asian Games the same importance as the women.
The real reason for this, of course, is the fact that the 2023 ODI World Cup is clashing with the Asian Games, and India are playing their best team there. India have won the ODI World Cup twice, in 1983 and 2011, and recently emerged victors at the 2023 Asia Cup, where they thrashed Sri Lanka in a lop-sided final.
They will be looking to add a third ODI World Cup trophy to their kitty on 19 November, when the 2023 ODI World Cup final will be held at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.
But the importance of Asian Games also cannot be discounted. Rodrigues said it was a proud feeling to add to India’s medals tally at the Games.
"It is a very different experience, wearing this India jersey is a matter of different pride. Also, we can add a medal to India as a sporting nation,” she explained.
Indian women cricket team's coach and former international player Hrishikesh Kanitkar too said he was delighted to have played a part in adding to the country’s tally.
"We rank this gold right up there because it adds to the country's tally of gold medals. So, I think it's very, very important that we directly contribute to the country,” he said.