Harmanpreet Kaur bats for Women’s IPL

India T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur batted for a Women’s Indian Premier League (WIPL) after her team lost the second T20I against Australia in the Gold Coast on Saturday.

Harmanpreet Kaur speaks to media after the second T20I between Australia and India at Metricon Stadium in Gold Coast, Australia on Saturday.   -  GETTY IMAGES

India T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur batted for a Women’s Indian Premier League (WIPL) after her team suffered yet another loss in the second T20 International against Australia in the Gold Coast on Saturday.

“If we keep playing quality cricket before the World Cup, that will be good for us. And if the domestic players get WIPL matches, that will help us a lot and as a team we are really looking forward to that,” she said.

Australia eventually romped home by six wickets after being reduced to 71 for five, as Indian bowlers failed to capitalise on the early inroads. Tahlia McGrath starred for the host with an unbeaten 42 off 33 balls and held her nerve till the end to seal the win.

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Asked about McGrath’s performance, Kaur said, “The way McGrath batted shows the confidence the experience of the WBBL is giving. They are ready to play international cricket and I think we do have a few players who haven’t played much cricket at a very competitive level. They don’t have much experience, like Renuka (Singh) Thakur, she has done very well in domestic cricket but still she doesn’t have that much experience. But still she has done very well. She bowled the first two overs well. But if a WIPL happens, it will be a great opportunity for youngsters to prove themselves.”

Renuka, playing her second T20I, started off with a maiden over. However, with the host needing 14 runs in the last two overs, the right-arm pacer leaked 13 overs in the penultimate over.

Kaur believes that the key reason behind the difference between the Indian and Australian sides is the young Indian players’ lack of experience of playing high-level cricket before breaking into the national side.

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“She (Tahlia McGrath) is looking very confident and very experienced. She has not played that much international cricket but just because of (Women’s Big Bash League) WBBL she got so many games before international cricket. That is the only reason I feel as a team we miss this experience, otherwise, talent-wise and approach-wise we are same. Only thing is, if domestically we get good cricket, good 30-40 games before coming to any international cricket, it will be very great for upcoming players,” she opined.

Kaur credited the WBBL for the success of the Australia women’s cricket team, which was on a 26-match winning streak in ODIs before India ended it in the third ODI of the multi-format series.

“The reason the Australian team is doing really well is because the whole season they get very good cricket. If we get a good 20 to 30 matches before international cricket to showcase our skills, whether its batting, bowling or fielding — you get that experience and you don’t feel lost when you play international cricket,” she said.

“Before international cricket, the workload of senior players and staff doubles because they need to teach young players how to approach international cricket. That becomes very tough for us. We need play good cricket domestically, like Australia, and I think it’s a great thing that eight Indians are getting the opportunity to play this year,” Kaur added.

On Friday, Indian leg-spinner Poonam Yadav became the eighth Indian player to receive a WBBL contract, after Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma, Richa Ghosh, Harmanpreet Kaur, Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma and Radha Yadav.

Referring to the IPL, Kaur said that the league had shown how it helped youngsters not to look raw when they made their international debuts. “Since they have got a platform like the IPL, a young talent never looks out of place in international cricket. They always show their maturity because they have an experience of 40 to 50 IPL games.

They play good cricket during that period and make their teams win. That is the only reason we are lacking right now. If we get to play good quality cricket before playing at the international level, we will definitely improve as a team,” she said.

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