Having missed out on the gold at the Commonwealth Games, left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad is confident the Indian women’s team can go the distance at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China next month.
The Indian team came close to winning the coveted gold on women’s cricket’s Commonwealth Games debut in Birmingham last year but went down to Australia in the summit clash. It was the side’s third defeat in a big final in recent years.
The ‘Women in Blue’ have got a direct qualification to the quarterfinals at the Asian Games based on their ICC T20I rankings.
“Definitely, we will get the gold medal in the Asian Games,” Gayakwad told PTI in an exclusive interview.
“We have played against all major opponents in the past, but not to dwell on that much, we have the trust in our team that we are capable of winning and clinching the gold medal,” she added.
Gayakwad was not part of India’s last assignment -- the tour of Bangladesh where they won the T20I series 2-1 but had to settle for a 1-1 draw in the ODI fixtures.
“I was in rehabilitation and on rest during the Bangladesh tour. It was not the case of me being dropped,” Gayakwad said.
The spinner, who has played two Tests, 64 ODIs, and 55 T20Is for India, is currently busy in an off-season camp for Indian players of the Women’s Premier League side UP Warriorz in Bengaluru.
“We have done some great work in the camp. We did not need to work on any specific areas but spoke about improving in those areas where we could have done better and focused only on that.”
“The focus has been on the overall game — from fielding to batting and bowling. The batters, though, tried to work on their stroke-making in particular.” Gayakwad said coming editions of the WPL will provide more matchtime to the players.
“The WPL is a big thing for Indian cricket because it challenges us to take our cricket more seriously and we can improve more because there were not many opportunities in terms of match-time for us.”
“Playing for the Indian team directly from the domestic set-up was the only option, but going forward, there will be more matches, which will only result in the betterment of women’s cricket in India.”
On sharing the dressing room with some of the biggest names in women’s cricket, Gayakwad said, “The one thing we learn from overseas players is their thought process, like how they prepare themselves before a match.”
With 99 wickets, Gayakwad is India’s fourth-highest wicket-taker in ODI cricket but has no particular aim to finish at any spot on the list.
“Frankly speaking, I do not think about it. The idea is to take it one match at a time. I have not thought about getting here or there,” she said.
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