Indian women win hearts after gutsy World Cup bid

New Delhi (AFP) –


India's women's team was hailed at home for their gritty showing at Lord's after just missing out on making history in narrowly losing to England in the World Cup final.

Millions of cricket-crazy Indians watching the match on big screens across the country were left heartbroken as their team fell short of their 229-run target by just nine runs in a thrilling finale on Sunday.

After an impressive start India's batting imploded as the Mithali Raj-led side slipped from 191-3 to 219 all out in 48.4 overs.

England pace bowler Anya Shrubsole led the charge with figures of 6-46 -- the best recorded in a World Cup final.

But tributes flowed from the prime minister and cricket legends for the "Women in Blue", who often miss the limelight hogged by India's men's Test side.

"Our women cricketers gave their best today. They have shown remarkable tenacity & skill through the World Cup. Proud of the team!" Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter.

Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar consoled the team on their World Cup disappointment, the second time they have missed the cup after going down to Australia in 2005.

"Feel for all of you, #WomenInBlue! You were good throughout but sometimes it is not meant to be. Congrats England on winning," Tendulkar wrote on Twitter.

India's men's 1983 World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev hailed the women's gutsy showing as a victory for girls across the subcontinent.

"Mithali's team too has won the hearts of the nation. I know that not every daughter will become a champion, but I am sure that the mindset of parents is bound to change now," Dev was quoted as saying by The Hindu newspaper.

"Honestly, I was not a keen follower of women's cricket, but I am their biggest fan now. I am sure... people will pray to be blessed with daughters. Hats off to them."

The front page of the Hindustan Times newspaper declared: "India take big steps, fall just short of giant leap."

The Board of Control for Cricket in India announced a cash prize of $800,000 for each player after their semi-final victory over Australia last week.

Those cricketers working for India's railways -- there are 10 members of the squad employed by the state-run transport body -- will receive automatic promotions, local media reported.

Captain Raj has been promised a BMW by a former cricket selector.