The Indian women’s team last featured in a T20 World Cup two years ago, when it eventually crashed out in the semifinals. And as another edition beckons, India captain Harmanpreet Kaur is confident of India’s chances.
“We were pretty close in the last two World Cups (ODI World Cup in 2017 and T20 World Cup in 2018). In this World Cup, we need to keep in mind how to handle pressure. The only reason we did not win the last two World Cups was because we could not handle pressure when we needed to,” Harmanpreet said on Thursday.
This time around, however, the team has set itself a new target -- go out in the middle and enjoy the game. “Rather than taking pressure, we need to enjoy our game. We need to back our skills and play our natural game,” she said.
Before the showpiece tournament begins next month, India will play a tri-series involving England and Australia starting January 31, and coach W.V. Raman feels that those matches will help the team a lot, ahead of the ICC event. “We will get a few good hard, tough games that will give us a lot of pointers as to what needs to be done in a way we are. And even if we come worse off in the tournament, that's also good because the only way after that is up, so any which way you look at it, the tri-series is going be very, very helpful for us.”
With youngsters Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues and Richa Ghosh in the squad, the batting has depth and Raman sees it as a positive.
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“It will definitely help us psychologically. At the start of last season, we did not do well enough. After that, the unit settled down. Each one of the players had a good hit, they are all in good nick and they have also worked on their skills, which means you do have a fair bit of sense of security and confidence going into this tournament, given what has happened in the last six months,” he said.
“We are covering all other bases. This is a young team which is enthusiastic, positive and focused. That’s very important,” the coach said, hoping that his team plays fearless cricket in the coming months.
Raman added: “In today’s era, age on either side is just become a number. It's about the talent that there is, what they can bring to the table as far as the requirements of the team is concerned. So I don't think we should necessarily focus on the age part of it. This is a brand of cricket that we look to play and it is a format where people need to be positive.”
While it will be a new challenge for most of the cricketers, Harmanpreet, Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah have the experiences of playing Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) in Australia. While the skipper feels the added exposure will help the team in the long run, Raman stays cautious saying there is a difference between franchise cricket and international outings.
“Playing franchise cricket is one thing and playing international tournaments where your country features, is a different game altogether. They may be familiar with the conditions, but this is a different platform, and the pressure element is different. All these things put together will negate whatever advantage they may seemingly have,” Raman said.
The team leaves for Australia on Thursday evening.