‘It is important not to depend on one or two players’

Mithali Raj, who won the ‘player of the series’ award in the recently-concluded T20 tournament between India women and South Africa women, is looking ahead at the World T20 event later this year.

India cricketer Mithali Raj, who excelled in the eves’ limited-overs tour in South Africa, believes the short camp in Mumbai before the tour prepared them well.   -  G.P. SAMPATH KUMAR

India has more match-winners now and in the days to come, it should be a quality side to beat, said Mithali Raj, who was named ‘player of the series’ after the Indian eves defeated South Africa in the T20 series.

“The fact that we completed a highly creditable ‘double’ winning the one-day series and the T20 in the challenging conditions in South Africa is a reminder of how well we were prepared for this tour,” Mithali told Sportstar from Cape Town. “I think the short duration camp in Mumbai before we left for South Africa helped us a lot to work on our game,” she added.

Challenging conditions

“Definitely, I think it was great to see the girls do so well in the conditions which were challenging for batters and spinners, more importantly assisting the pacers. They really shaped up very well knowing fully well that the challenges will be different and not any easier on pitches which were fast and had bounce,” the 35-year-old Mithali explained.

“The twin triumph has done a world of good to the confidence of the team. We always knew we were a good one-day team. And now, the T20 series performance with convincing wins in South Africa is something commendable,” she added.

Team work

“The biggest positive of this South African tour is that we didn’t rely on one or two players. Everyone contributed in all departments. I was impressed with the way we handled the middle-overs after the pacers gave us the early breakthroughs. Smriti (Mandhana) gave us good starts and the middle-order also clicked. This is a welcome sight,” she said.

“I feel it is important not to depend on one or two players only. I repeat this will be the side to beat and I hope to see at least five to six match-winners in the team,” Mithali said.

“On a personal level, I am happy with my performances, especially finishing the T20 series on a high. Overall, I am happy with the result of the team with my own contribution. I could have done much better in the ODIs,” Mithali felt. “Right now, I am enjoying my game and no immediate thoughts on anything else other than cricket,” she said.

World Cup ahead

“The future of Indian women’s cricket looks good. The T20 World Cup this October should be the perfect stage to serve a reminder of our growing stature. But it is important to play as many matches,” she said.

“Yes, we have to work on lot of things right now. We have Australia and England coming to India later this year. It will be a tough home series. They have quality players and the two teams are good in both the formats. To have them before the T20 World Cup should give us a perspective of what our strong points and the areas to work on,” added Mithali.

“There is always scope for improvement in every aspect of the game. I personally think fielding is the key area, bowlers have to work on variations and we are trying to see the lower-order contributing with the bat too,” she said.

SA tour, with the men

“It is always great to play at venues where the men’s teams feature because of the ambience, the dressing room atmosphere and other things. These double-headers serve a lot good to women’s cricket and I feel this should be a regular feature. And, they are televised to sustain the momentum and the interest of the people in the women’s cricket,” she said.