W.V. Raman: We need to identify a couple of fast bowlers

India women's cricket team coach W.V. Raman emphasised the need to identify a couple of fast bowlers while acknowledging the sway the spinners continue to hold.

W.V. Raman is the current head coach of the national women’s team.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

A week after returning from India Women’s tour to Australia - where Harmanpreet Kaur’s young bunch made it to the final of the tri-series featuring Australia and England and followed it up by reaching the T20 World Cup final - W.V. Raman, the head coach, shares the journey with Sportstar.

Excerpts:

How would you sum up the tour Down Under?

In both the tournaments, the girls definitely did well. They were in the tri-series up against two better sides and in the World Cup, we were placed in a tough group. To have won all the league games and qualify was quite an achievement given that it’s a young side that’s still on a learning curve in T20s. If you take all this into account, the tour was a success. Yes, winning the final would have been greater but these things happen in sport. You can’t help it.

What exactly went wrong in the final? Did the packed house at MCG get to the girls? Or was it the big-match pressure?

The point is in a T20 game, you can hardly make a comeback. When the first 30-40 minutes go away from you, it’s very difficult for you to make a comeback. Just to make a point, when I was with KKR (as an assistant coach), we were playing the CLT20 final (in 2014) against CSK; Raina made a mockery of a chase of 180-plus where he got off to a start and never looked back. A similar innings was played by Alyssa Healy. Whatever she tried that day, it came off. All other factors, all other reasonings we can think of are just incidental but the long and short of it in T20 these things will happen.

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Would you say the rise of three teenaged batters is the biggest gain from the tour?

Of course. I mentioned before leaving India that we do have players who can go on to become match-winners on their own and the batting side is far well-equipped now than it was when I took over. We have identified the talent and also the players who can measure up to what is required at the top level. And also to work on their skills as well as fitness. That gives you a bit of confidence than it did some time ago.

While spinners continued to come good, pace bowling barring Shikha Pandey remains a concern ahead of the next year’s ODI World Cup…

Spinners have been calling the shots for a couple of years now. We need to identify a couple of fast bowlers and it will take them some time to become consistent performers. Bowling fast isn't easy, especially for Indian girls who are comparatively frailer than Caucasian girls. Fast bowling is anyway a lot of hard work, be it male or female. The challenges are going to be slightly more in women’s cricket.

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The two senior batters - Harmanpreet and Smriti Mandhana - had a mediocre World Cup. What would you attribute it to?

I felt that they were over-keen to do well. I think once they saw the team perform in the tri-series, they thought yes, this may be a great chance to claim the summit. They must have probably felt they needed to up their game. Sometimes even for the most experienced or acclaimed performers, the tendency to get over-keen comes in. Both of them have performed for long across formats, so that was probably the reason because you can’t attribute it to anything else.

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