Indian captain Mithali Raj is looking to continue her rich form at the upcoming Women’s World Cup and said young players like Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh have shown they have the ability to compete at the highest level.
Mithali further explained that the last couple of series have helped the team figure out its composition ahead of next month’s Women’s ODI World Cup. India tested some new talent in the series against South Africa, England, Australia and New Zealand ahead of the World Cup which begins March 4 in New Zealand.
“The talent we got last year, we tried some young talents in the squad and most of them showed they have the ability to play at this level like Richa (Ghosh), Shafali (Verma ), we have Meghna Singh in the Sailors, Pooja Vastrakar,” Raj said on day two of the Captains’ inaugural media conference.
“They all got good playing time and those series really helped them and me as captain to figure out where they fit into the composition of the team.
“I definitely know my style of play for the first few games and I’m looking forward to giving all the core players playtime during the warm-up, as well as the players who will eventually get an opportunity at the World Cup.”
The veteran hitter said a team needs to have a mix of experience and youth to do well in tournaments.
“We have an experienced core group since the last edition. Most of them, even the young players who recently joined the team, have had the opportunity to play in leagues. It gives them more exposure than bilateral series.”
“Big events require experience, not just young players. Having the two together is a good mix.”
Mithali seeks to continue her rich streak of form
“Personally, I’m happy with the way I’ve been scoring runs and I’d love to continue that form in the World Cup.”
The Indian captain said she advised the players who will be making their World Cup debuts not to up the pressure and enjoy the big stage.
“To the young talents in the squad today I tell them you don’t have the experience of past World Cups so it’s a clean slate for you, all you have to do is enjoy the big stage,” she said.
“I spoke to Yastika (Bhatia) the other day, I took her out for coffee and we talked quite a bit, she is a talkative kid and asked me a lot of questions.
“The only advice I would give to young players is to enjoy the big stage because if you increase the pressure you may not be playing the best that the team and you want to be at the World Cup.”
The ICC recently said all games at the World Cup could be played with nine players in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.
“I don’t want to think about it much as I want to have my full power to play, but given the current situation, if anything, the situation gives us an opportunity to get a game because every team has prepared very hard to get one year, so it’s important to get the event going,” said Raj.
In the just-completed five-game ODI streak, India managed to deny hosts New Zealand a clean win by winning the final game by six wickets.
“Winning is important for any team competing in a big event. The take-away is definitely how the batting unit evolved in each game. The bowling session took some time,” she said.
“The spinners we rely on also understand that these wickets are shot-friendly and they need to tighten line and length and roll consistently.
“We definitely want to put more effort into fielding as well. That’s an area we’re consistently working on.”
Harmanpreet Kaur becomes India’s vice-captain at the World Cup
In the last two ODIs against the New Zealand all-rounder, Deepti Sharma served as Raj’s deputy. However, the skipper confirmed that veteran batter Harmanpreet Kaur, who returned to form with a 63-run knock to win the match, will be India’s designated vice-captain at the World Cup.
“Selecting Deepti as vice-captain for the last two ODIs was the choice of the selectors and the BCCI. Harmanpreet is the vice-captain for the World Championship,” Mithali said during a virtual press conference. The Women’s World Cup will be held in New Zealand from March 4th to April 3rd. India will begin their World Cup campaign against Pakistan on March 6th.