“Let’s focus on the World Cup, the next 2 months are going to be crucial,” says Mithali Raj

India’s women’s cricket team displayed some extraordinary performances last year. Though they weren’t able to win any of the three series they played, they did impress many bringing in some remarkable moments. What was more special in the year was the rise of the young talents from the country. Yastika Bhatia, Renuka Singh Thakur, Meghna Singh, all three got their maiden call-ups in international cricket while all-rounder Sneh Rana made an applaudable comeback.

L-R: Meghana Singh, Yastika Bhatia and Renuka Singh Thakur
L-R: Meghana Singh, Yastika Bhatia and Renuka Singh Thakur

 

The women in blue will begin their 2022 cricket season with their tour to New Zealand consisting of a series against the White Ferns that includes a T20I and five ODIs and then the 2022 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup there itself. Commenting on the advantage playing matches in the World Cup host country just before the big tournament would bring, the team’s ODI and Test Captain Mithali Raj in an interaction with PTI said,

“We will definitely be looking to fix our combinations for the World Cup (in ODIs against New Zealand) and try out a few compositions and also get a little more consistent in the things that worked for us in the last year,”

The interview that was held after Mithali was named Jacob’s Creek brand ambassador also saw Raj appreciating the team’s lower middle-order consisting of Sneh Rana, Richa Ghosh, and Pooja Vastrakar all of whom have contributed some crucial runs to the team’s total in the later stages of the innings especially with their power-hitting capabilities. She further commented on the increasing competition between players to grab a spot in the playing XI that has been a positive sign for women’s cricket in the country and talked about the need to be more consistent in some specific areas which would help a lot during the World Cup.

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“Let's focus on the World Cup, the next two months are going to be crucial,” says Mithali Raj
“Let’s focus on the World Cup, the next two months are going to be crucial,” says Mithali Raj

 

Further, the all-time leading ODI run-scorer in women’s cricket, Raj also pointed out the areas where she herself needs to work on as she gears up for what could be her last try at the World Cup trophy after having a career spanning over two decades. Under Mithali’s captaincy India has reached two World Cup finals (2005 and 2017) but unfortunately wasn’t able to convert either of them.

The best part of Mithali’s interaction was her statement that emphasized the importance of playing to your own strengths without focusing much on the combinations that work better with the top teams.

She said, “Well, yes, definitely (the constant need to change). The standard definitely keeps increasing in women’s cricket. Many times, people tend to compare with the other teams, but I would say that as an Indian team, we have our own strengths.

“If we can stick to that and be more consistent in playing with our strengths and at the same time work on things that require a little more growth as a team, then there is more possibility of progress rather than comparing ourselves and trying to sort of fit in things where we don’t have that sort of players yet.”

Harmanpreet Kaur’s brilliant knock in the Semi-Finals of the 2017 edition of the World Cup brought a major upset for the 6 times World Cup Champions, Australia and it was that victory that gave Indian women’s cricket a big boost. Though the team lost to England in the Finals, the support they have been getting after that has been incredible and with this support from the ever-excited Indian fans, the confident team India would be looking to be the champions of the 2022 ICC Women’s World Cup which begins from March 4 prior to which the team plays against New Zealand February 9 onwards.

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India’s World Cup 2022 squad

Mithali Raj (C), Harmanpreet Kaur (VC), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia, Deepti Sharma, Richa Ghosh, Sneh Rana, Jhulan Goswami, Pooja Vastrakar, Meghna Singh, Renuka Singh Thakur, Taniya Bhatia (wicket-keeper), Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav.

Standby Players: S. Meghna, Ekta Bisht, Simran Dil Bahadur.

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