Mithali Raj: India to bank on spinners for World Cup success

The Indian captain and coach Tushar Arothe addressed the media prior to the team's departure for the ICC Women's World Cup.

Indian captain Mithali Raj wants to kickstart a revolution in Indian Women’s cricket by winning the ICC Women’s World Cup in England starting this month.   -  Vivek Bendre

Despite playing conditions in England - the host of the ICC Women's World Cup - favouring swing bowling, India will rely heavily on spinners and fielders for success in the tournament, according to captain Mithali Raj and coach Tushar Arothe. The duo addressed the media at the MCA Stadium in Bandra-Kurla Complex prior to the team's departure for the event.

Replying to a query about travelling to England with three pace bowlers, when other sides are likely to be armed with numerous new-ball exponents, the skipper said: “India has always banked on spin, even in conditions favouring fast bowling. I hope the three fast bowlers in the squad remain fit and free from injuries.”

The World Cup squad includes Ekta Bist, Poonam Yadav, Deepti Sharma, and Harmanpreet Kaur, who contributed with their spin bowling to India's eight-wicket win over South Africa in Potchefstroom last month. Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey, who bowled with the new ball in that game, are also part of the squad, besides another spinner, Rajeshwari Gaekwad.

Weather worry

Mithali was also asked questions about the potential impact of rain, as has been witnessed in the ongoing ICC Champions Trophy. “We are aware of the rain factor. Shuffling the batting line-up based on the conditions is one way of preparing and all teams will be keeping track of weather update on match day,” she said. Experienced players will guide the first-timers in dealing with situations, she added. “India does not depend on seniors alone, even the youngsters are chipping in.”

India begins its campaign against host England on June 24 and concludes the league phase on July 15 against New Zealand. The first four sides among eight in the fray will contest the semifinal.

Mithali was excited about the impact on women’s cricket in India if her team returned with the title. “Winning will create a cricket revolution. Having said that, the format makes it a long tournament and the primary task is to qualify for the semifinals.”

Tushar Arothe, a former Baroda all-rounder in men’s first-class cricket, felt positive about the preparations.

“We planned well for the South Africa series and the team responded with performances. Stunning catches were taken and I am hopeful the fielding will make a difference in the World Cup also. We had a few fielding sessions here, trained in indoor nets. The confidence is high on return from South Africa.” The second position in 2005 World Cup is India’s best feat, followed by the third spot in 2009 World Cup.

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