But Mumbai lass Punam Raut made a vital contribution as well. Punam put on a record 175 runs for the first wicket with Thirush.
Punam crafted her way into a well-made 72 which was studded with seven hits to the fence. One of the special features about the innings was her favourite shot, the ‘Dilscoop’ which she employed on five occasions. Cricketer-turned-commentator Sanjay Manjrekar was impressed and he praised Punam’s “all-round play and timing.”
Shy Raut (23) hails from a lower middle-class family in Borivli. Cricket was always going to be a difficult option given her financial condition, but that did not hamper her dream of donning national colours.
She grew up idolising Mithali Raj, the current captain of the Indian women’s team. Gully cricket matches with neighbouring boys did wonders for her cricketing passion and her father got her enrolled in Payyade Cricket Club under the watchful eyes of Sanjay Gaitonde.
In her first-ever competitive match, she scored a match-winning 68 before thriving on the women’s scene. By the sheer weight of her domestic performance, she got picked to represent India in the 2009 World Cup held in Australia.
At the ICC World T20 in Sri Lanka, Punam scored 134 runs in four matches. On Thursday, coach Gaitonde was delighted to watch his student work her way to 72 against the West Indies. “She is a special talent.
The one thing that separates her from others is her determination and hunger to succeed,” he says. Her father, an ardent cricket lover, rued the fact that he was at work while his daughter was hitting the high notes for India at Brabourne.
Punam’s brother and mother were at the ground though. Here father has played a key role in her development but try reminding him about his efforts and he will shift all credit to his daughter. “All credit should be given to Punam for her sheer passion and love for the game,” he says.
Thursday’s century partnership will be a highlight for Punam, but there is another alliance which she looks back with pride – her century stand for the second wicket with Mithali Raj which helped India break England’s enviable seven-match ODI winning streak at Lord’s last summer.
Punam scored 60 off 105 balls with five hits to the hallowed fence. England, who face up to Punam today, will remember that innings. Over to Brabourne!