Mithali: 'Indian men's team thriving on confidence among players'

Indian women's ODI team skipper Mithali Raj also said players should learn to deal with criticism in a passionate country like India.

Mithali Raj at a promotional event of the Save The Children foundation.   -  PTI

India women’s ODI team captain and veteran Mithali Raj said cricketer's should learn to take public criticism in their stride. 

“People are very passionate in our country about cricket," said Mithali. "This is one sport which makes a whole nation to sit down and watch. It is but natural that fans who are so passionate to have opinions and wish the players to perform in a certain way.”

She added: “These are the same people who made cricket the sport it is today and also made the players into brands. After all, it is a sport, so [criticism] should be taken in the stride.”

Mithali, a performer on the World Cup stage for India over four editions, was speaking on the sidelines of Peppa Plays Cricket event at Oberoi Mall, Goregaon. Asked to explain Indian men's senior team's successful run so far at the World Cup in England, she said: “Every individual [in the team] has a vision of winning the World Cup. It is a very positive and contagious vibe.”

She added: “Team India players know what is at stake. Once you start performing well as an unit, every game sees a new player emerging as the match-winner, there is a feeling within that this group has a chance to win the title. The confidence among players is what this side thrived on. India has won matches despite going through an off-day, like the close tie against Afghanistan. The only way to perform on the World Cup stage is to maintain belief in your preparation and bring out your A game in every match.”

India women's leading run-scorer in ODIs points out that records cannot be planned. On Rohit Sharma’s feat of five ODI tons in the World Cup, the most by a player in a single tournament, Mithali said, “You cannot plan for successive half-centuries or centuries. One breaks records unknowingly, when a player is in that zone."

"The body is in sync with the mind, a situation every cricketer will wish to get into. At the highest level, you need a clear mind. Batting is a reaction thing, clarity in place of chaos will get you back-to-back 50s or 100s. Rohit (Sharma) will tell you about just going there and playing for his team.” 

The India women’s captain mingled with kids from Save The Children foundation, which won the Street Cricket World Cup in England in May.

Asked about the challenges of batting in England, she said, “Bowlers get help initially but once the wickets weather out, batters can make a mark. Big scores will come down to 300 or less in team scores. You cannot score big on slower wickets.”