Senior players need to take more responsibility, says India coach Powar

India next meets an in-form West Indies side, which has already upset defending champion England and hosts New Zealand in its opening two matches.

File Photo of Ramesh Powar.   -  THE HINDU

 “Surprised” by the lack of intent shown by the Indian top-order in the loss against New Zealand, head coach Ramesh Powar has urged the team’s senior players to take more responsibility starting with the ICC Women's World Cup match against West Indies here on Saturday.

The Indian top-order failed to fire once again as the Mithali Raj-led side scored just 50 runs off 20 overs while chasing 261 to eventually suffer a 62-run loss against hosts New Zealand on Thursday.

“I think it was one of those days where things didn’t go our way and honestly I was also surprised the way we batted 20 overs," Powar said at the virtual pre-match conference on the eve of the team’s game against West Indies.

"And if you look back (at the) last six games, which we have played against New Zealand, we were executing our plans well.” Powar said the team has been given ample opportunities to practice in the lead up to the tournament and it is now time to deliver.

READ: Skipper Mithali rues top-order display in run-chase against New Zealand

"I want seniors to be putting their hand up, like Mithali (Raj), Smriti (Mandhana), Jhulan (Goswami), and win us the games single-handedly, because their participation and contributions in the win will brush off on the younger players,” said Powar.

“I think it is the pressure of the World Cup but I don’t want to give any excuses. This is the right time to put your hand up and put up the performances.

"We have been training for last six months, we have been to England, Australia, we have been to New Zealand early, so we have got every practice opportunity which was needed, so it is time as a group to stand up and deliver,” added Powar.

The former spinner also urged the top five batters in the side to be more consistent.

“Going forward, I expect her (Harmanpreet Kaur) to be consistent and I expect everyone from the top five to be consistent." 

India next meets an in-form West Indies side, which has already upset defending champion England and hosts New Zealand in its opening two matches.

The coach stressed the need to show intent in the first 10 overs.

“(Sneh) Rana and Pooja (Vastrakar) are part of team India and we have been working hard on each and every player – be it pure batter or the all-rounder.

“These things will happen when the top three-four will struggle (and) bottom three will perform it is a team game, where someone has to cover for someone, everyone will not perform every game.

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"Going forward it is important to show some intent when you bat in the first 10 overs,” said the former India spinner.

“And if you look around this World Cup, chasing is not easy but it was a good wicket to chase upon and we have messed up in the first 20 overs where I was expecting momentum and intent,” he stated.

Vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur is back amongst runs after enduring a rough patch and Powar is confident the right-hander is cable of winning matches single-handed.

"If someone is out of form, that player is getting into form, I am happy. I was never disappointed when she was out of form because I know what kind of player she is, I have coached her in 2018 and I know her capabilities, she can win you games single-handedly,” said Powar.

The mental health factor

The Indian women's cricket team's head coach Ramesh Powar feels the team has benefitted immensely from the presence of psychologist Mughda Bavare in the ongoing World Cup as she has helped the players become more confident in dealing with adverse situations on the field.

Skipper Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur have already spoken about how Bavare has helped them turn it around during difficult phases.

Powar cited the example of how Pooja Vastrakar and Sneh Rana pulled the team out of trouble in their tournament lung-opener against Pakistan, which India won.

"If you remember how we used to react to collapses, I think the way Pooja (Vastrakar) and (Sneh) Rana addressed that collapse, it is a part of mindset (and) that's what she works on. And moving forward, I hope it will help us getting right results and the mindset," Powar said ahead of the team's third league game against the West Indies here on Saturday.

READ: Pakistan vs Australia: Rawalpindi pitch rated below average by ICC

India has so far beaten Pakistan and lost heavily to New Zealand in the tournament.

Powar said Bavare has been able to create a relaxed atmosphere in the dressing room.

"I think as a head coach, I wanted that help because it is a high-pressure tournament, and looking at our history, I wanted players to be at ease when they play this kind of high-pressure tournament and she has been with us from England," Powar said.

"I think it's been almost more than six months, and in person, I think, (this is the) first time she is travelling with us, and it is helping us a lot," he added when asked whose idea was it to bring in a psychologist.

Bavare is the first psychologist to travel with the Indian women's team on a tour.

Bavare is a former national level swimmer and was engaged for the Indian men's and women's wrestling teams, boxers and track and field athletes ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

She has also been associated with the Mumbai Cricket Association besides working with ace archer Deepika Kumari in the past.

Harmanpreet Kaur, who is the team's vice-captain, had recently revealed that she was "going into a shell" before Bavare helped her get "clear ideas" and regain her lost form ahead of the World Cup.

Mithali had also said that the team was benefitting immensely from the presence of Bavare. 

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