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It was terrific to see Thirush Kamini become the first Indian woman to hit a hundred in a World Cup, when she reached three figures in the opening game against West Indies. There was no better way for the home side to kick off the tournament, with plenty of headline grabbing performances.
Kamini, a 22-year-old left hander from Chennai, didn't always show the greatest propensity for running between the wickets - resulting in a couple of hairy moments at times - but her range of strokeplay meant she didn't always need to be running. Her century validated her recall to the side, more than two years after her last ODI, while fast bowler Jhulan Goswami lit up the late afternoon with a series of blistering boundaries. Most of us in the commentary box questioned the wisdom of promoting Goswami up the order ahead of captain Mithali Raj, who has a superior strike rate, but she proved us wrong. Goswami then opened the bowling with a superb display of swing and seam, moving the ball both ways, and was backed up well by the experienced Amita Sharma.
We were treated to a 'Dottin Special,' which had Sanjay Manjrekar purring, as the Bajan batter showed off her power hitting during an aggressive 21-minute innings, when she crashed the ball well beyond the boundary rope four times on route to 39 off 16 balls. If only Dottin could have batted for a longer period, she could have put a serious innings together to genuinely worry India. For the host nation, a 105-run win, coupled with the landmark hundred, was a brilliant way for the tournament to get underway and for the public to get engaged.
Are women cricketers batters or batsmen? It is a question that newcomers to the game often ask. Well, the players themselves happily interchange the two terms when referring to themselves and team-mates. After all, the fielding position 'third man' is still 'third man' and in women's team sports the term 'man-to-man marking' is used in a neutral sense, and in hockey you hear the shout of 'man on!' whether it's the men's game or the women's. The ICC's preferred term though is 'batter'.
The World Cup has been introduced to a new set of twins - and identical ones at that. Kycia and Kyshona Knight are 20-year old left-handers from Barbados. Kycia made her international debut for West Indies in 2011 while Kyshona, the more outspoken of the two, made her first appearance in the two Twenty20 internationals against South Africa in January, which West Indies won.
Both came down with flu in the build up to the tournament but recovered sufficiently to play against India, although Kycia's first World Cup saw her run out, taking a single in the opening over of their chase. West Indies captain Merissa Aguillera has known the twins for some time, but even she admits to occasional cases of mistaken identity. "Yes we get them mixed up at times but I think it's all about understanding them and getting to know them as time goes on. Even thought they are twins they are two different characters. They're identical, but if you look at them carefully you can see the difference. It's not a problem for me because I've known them for a long time." The two are also talented footballers, who won scholarships to play overseas, before realising their passion lay in cricket.
As the tournament goes on, look out for the celebrations of India fast bowler Nagarajan Niranjana, who took 3 for 52 off nine overs in the opening game against West Indies. She tore off around the outfield, pumping her arms and shaking her head like a mad thing when she dismissed the dangerous Dottin. She revealed to me afterwards that Sreesanth is her inspiration for the celebrations. She has met him, but doesn't profess to know him personally. As a spectator, you can't help but feel her spontaneous passion though and I think she could become one of the characters of this World Cup.
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