Mithali Raj has hailed India's first ever series victory over Australia as 'sensational', calling the result the best of her T20 career. India's women defeated Australia by 10 wickets (D/L method) here on Friday to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in their three-match T20 series.
“Coming into this tour, we weren't really prepared for these Australian wickets,” Mithali said. “Other than three to four of us, who came here way back during the 2009 World Cup, nobody had played here before. Also, we hadn't faced Australia since a warm-up one-day game in 2013. Considering all these factors, it's a sensational win.”
This is India's first set of matches since the introduction of central contracts for women by the BCCI. Mithali felt her players had vindicated that decision with this triumph. “We just signed our central contracts. And the girls are quite happy. I'm very happy that we actually proved that we are worth it and deserve them. I'm sure it will motivate the other players and cricketers back in India, who want to play for the nation. There are players who are very talented but financially not very secure,” she said.
The Indian eves' T20 series against Australia has been scheduled parallel to their male counterparts' engagements. The women's matches are held in the afternoon with the men's teams playing at the same venue in the evening. This had created scope for interaction and learning, Mithali felt. “This is the first time that we've actually crossed paths, where the games are double-headers and the practice sessions are similar too,” Mithali remarked. “When we cross paths and when we've had an interaction, it has really helped. Before the first match, when I had an interaction with the fielding coach (R. Sridhar), we discussed a few things, and the experience has really helped our girls.”
India's only practice game ahead of this series was washed out, hardly ideal preparation to face the three-time women's World T20 champion. Mithali admitted she had not expected the result. “I wanted the girls to perform well and play a good standard of cricket because we were on television and this was a platform where we could actually promote the Indian women's team,” she said. “And they have performed way beyond my expectations. With all the factors against us and playing against the World champions, I gave us a 20-80% (of us winning). We have had close games with Australia before but winning was definitely not on my mind.”
The series victory comes as a shot in the arm for India ahead of the World T20. “It opens up a lot of doors for us,” Mithali said. “This is a format we haven't been very good at previously. Beating Australia at home is a big achievement. We are going to play the World Cup in India, and all the other teams will be wary of our team. There was the Test win in England, but this has to be the best T20 result of my career.”