India’s women’s cricket team has travelled far and wide over the years and has featured in multiple World Cups and bilateral events, but next week, Harmanpreet Kaur and her side will be in for a new experience when they enter the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham to feature in the multi-sport event for the first time.
The team has had a good preparation in the away series against Sri Lanka earlier this month and the players appear confident despite a COVID-19 scare in the camp and visa delay. In fact, as the team gears up for the Commonwealth Games, the players and coaches have a wishlist - they want to meet and pick the brains of Neeraj Chopra and P.V. Sindhu.
“If there is an opportunity, we would all like to meet P.V. Sindhu and Neeraj Chopra because they have set the bar high and we would like to go into their minds. I am curious about their preparation because the way they handle the pressure is commendable. We would like to exchange some notes with these top-class athletes,” head coach Ramesh Powar said on the eve of the team’s departure to Birmingham.
Chopra was India’s only gold medalist in the Tokyo Olympics last year, while Sindhu has been one of the consistent performers in the multi-sport event. While the cricketers want to interact with them and draw inspiration, captain Harmanpreet is excited about living in the Games village and interacting with athletes across the globe. She is also looking forward to the opening ceremony.
“As we speak, I actually feel as if I am walking on that road (at the opening ceremony). We have been talking about the fact that we will be part of a multi-sport event and there will be other teams also apart from cricket. We want to celebrate each and every medal that we will win. It will be a different experience and we can’t wait to fly to Birmingham and be part of the great event,” Harmanpreet said.
The team will open its campaign against Australia on July 29. India lost to Australia in its last T20 World Cup game earlier. But after enjoying success in the home series against Sri Lanka, the Indian team is confident of achieving the desired result in the Commonwealth Games.
“Whenever we play against Australia, they have always given us tough competition and this time, we are looking very positive. Every game will be crucial for us and we will try to give our 100 per cent,” Harmanpreet said.
Leading up to the Commonwealth Games, there were a few shuffling in the team and Powar said that the team always tried to choose the best combination that’s suitable for the situation.
“We are happy about this squad because we were part of the discussion and took a call collectively. We are excited that the job will be done by this bunch of players. You see young players moving around quickly and that will send a message to our domestic players also,” Powar said.
He also said that ‘everyone is fine’ in the squad and hinted that in case there are any developments on COVID-19, the BCCI will update.
In 1998, men’s cricket was a feature in the CWG, and as the game returns to the fold after 24 years, the side is confident of its chances.
“This is the first time we are participating in a tournament of this magnitude. There will be so many countries participating and there will be so many sports. It’s a bigger platform for our girls and we are thankful for that and it’s a great opportunity to show the world our talent,” Powar said, “You can tell the world that women’s cricket can participate in different events…”
Both the coach and the captain believe that this experience could eventually open the door for cricket in the Olympics in the near future, but for now, their focus remains on winning a medal in Birmingham.