Mithali Raj led India’s women’s cricket team has taken women’s cricket to a great height in the country. After missing out on cricketing action for almost a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Final of the 2020 World Cup in March being their last before their return to the field in March this year hosting South Africa for five ODIs and three T20Is, the women in blue have had a hectic but a good year.
Following the South Africa series, they toured England for the only test, three ODIs, and the same number of T20Is after which some of the players went on to play the inaugural season of ‘The Hundred organized by the England and Wales Cricket Board. The team then toured Australia for an all-format series consisting of three ODIs, a historic pink ball test, and three T20Is. To everyone’s surprise, the performance the Indian team displayed against the most successful team of women’s cricket who came for the ODIs with a record-breaking ODI winning streak was exceptional having ended Aussies’ winning streak and displaying nail-biting performances in most of the matches on the tour.
A brilliant display of performances there saw eight Indians being signed for the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) which once again witnessed a great display with the bat/ball with a couple of record-breaking performances- T20I captain, Harmanpreet Kaur being adjudged as the Player of the tournament, Smriti Mandhana’s unbeaten 114 equalling the highest ever individual score at WBBL with Ashleigh Gardner and many more great performances by the other six who were making their WBBL debut.
Though the team didn’t win any of the series they played, they did win the hearts of many, making themselves the favorites of women’s cricket and with this boost, they now head towards the 2022 ICC Women’s World Cup which commences from March 4 in New Zealand. The major advantage the woman in blue gets ahead of the World Cup is their series against the White Ferns consisting of a T20I and five ODIs. Scheduled from February 9, the series which would take place on the New Zealand pitch would help India analyze the field and the playing conditions well before getting into the big tournament.
As per a report, the leading run-scorer of women’s ODI, captain Mithali Raj commented on the team’s preparation ahead of the World Cup in an event in New Delhi. She said, “We have played three best teams since March and it has given us good preparation,”
“Players have played domestic cricket and also in the Women’s Big Bash, so they are getting game time which is the most important thing. We are getting to play in New Zealand before the World Cup which is also good.”
Further, talking about the team’s middle-order which has been an area of concern at times, Raj said that the team plays as one unit so a particular area can’t be pinpointed. Together as a unit, if they put a good total, it will always help but focusing on a specific slot will increase the burden on that slot.
— Female Cricket (@imfemalecricket) December 2, 2021
On the team’s astonishing finish as the 2017 World Cup Runners-Up, Raj who would be aiming for the World Cup Champions title for the one last time in her around two decades long career, said, “There were not enough expectations back then. Now in 2021 players have got experience and got a lot of exposure with the T20 leagues. Overall, we have young players, but they have got enough exposure. It is just a matter of gelling well as a team,”
Dear Mithali Raj, wish you create multiple records and lead India to World glory next year 🎂
— Female Cricket (@imfemalecricket) December 3, 2021
“Every match will be different there. The quicker we read our opponents the better it will be for us,” she added.
After a hectic schedule, Team India finally has a good break to rejuvenate and gear up well to fulfill their dream of being the World Cup Champions. They will now be seen in action when they tour New Zealand for around two months playing a series against them from February 9 to 24 followed by the World Cup where they play their first match on March 6.
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