SL v IND: Indian team working hard on fielding and fitness, says skipper Harmanpreet

VVS Laxman, who now heads the NCA, discussed quite a few aspects of the game with Harmanpreet Kaur and the team and guided them on how to work on their fitness levels.

In the past, the team often lost the momentum after losing early wickets, and that’s something Harmanpreet wants to address.   -  GETTY IMAGES

After a heartbreak in the World Cup, members of the Indian women’s cricket team had a long discussion with VVS Laxman at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.

The former India international, who now heads the NCA, discussed quite a few aspects of the game with Harmanpreet Kaur and the team and guided them on how to work on their fitness levels. And, as the team gears up for back-to-back international assignments - first the limited overs series against Sri Lanka, starting on Thursday, followed by the Commonwealth Games - Harmanpreet believes that the team will keep Laxman’s words in mind and work on those areas.

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“After the World Cup, we got some time to speak to VVS Sir. The best thing is that the NCA wants us to improve and grow as women cricketers. We had quite a few discussions with them and they have been watching us for quite some time in terms of what are the areas that we need to work on,” Harmanpreet said on Wednesday.

“This was the first time we got the opportunity to share our thoughts with VVS Sir and he also motivated us. He spoke to us about a phase in the Indian team when the players had to individually give their 10 per cent extra in terms of improving our fielding and fitness. We discussed as a team, how we can put in that 10 per cent extra effort to improve on those areas,” the India captain said, “You need some people around you who can motivate you, push you to improve. We were happy that he was there to give us suggestions.”

Fielding and fitness have been areas of concern for the Indian team, but going forward, Harmanpreet is confident that things will improve. “We want to improve as a team and we are working on that. Every time we go out there, we want to put up a competitive total and we are also putting extra efforts to improve our fielding,” she said.

“Every one is fit and fine and they are really working hard on their fitness, I think you will definitely see the results for the effort we put in, soon.”

With plenty of cricket to be played over the next few months, Harmanpreet admits that workload management will be crucial. Talking about the likes of Pooja Vastrakar, who has been a consistent performer, she said, “Every player wants to give 100 per cent everytime on the field. I can understand Pooja as I also approach the game in a similar way. When you put in that extra effort, you have three departments to work on everyday and there are chances of picking up a niggle.

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“We are looking at managing her workload in the training sessions and we also know that there are so many games lined up, so we will be flexible with her workload. She is an important player and we need her for the next 4-5 years so that she can improve as a cricketer,” Harmanpreet, who was elevated as the ODI captain after Mithali Raj retired from all forms of cricket, said.

In the past, the team often lost the momentum after losing early wickets, and that’s something Harmanpreet wants to address. “It is something we are trying to address, to maintain the momentum even after we lose wickets,” she said.

After missing out on a World Cup berth, Jemimah Rodrigues has returned to the squad for the T20Is against Sri Lanka and the captain is confident that the young batter from Mumbai will make the most of the opportunity that comes her way.

The T20I series will be played in Dambulla from Thursday, followed by the ODI series, a part of the ICC Women's Championship 2022-25, in Pallekele between July 1 to 7.

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