Mithali Raj, on Thursday. A Telegraph picture
Calcutta: The Indian women’s team is banking on their secret practice sessions for positive results in the World T20, in Bangladesh.
The squad leaves on Friday and will play a three-match T20 series against Bangladesh before the showpiece tournament. “This team is a blend of youth and experience… That will be of great help… We’ve worked hard and had secret practice sessions,” coach Purnima Rau said at the Eden, on Thursday.
By ‘secret’ sessions, Purnima was referring to their two practice matches against the Bengal under-16 boys’ team and practising at the driving range of the RCGC.
“The session at the RCGC helped our batters to work on their drive, and hopefully, will be a sort of revelation in the World T20. I’m very happy with the response of the players,” the coach said.
“The practice matches were aimed at getting our team combination right… Batting and bowling wise. We’ve worked hard on our batting and three T20 matches against Bangladesh prior to the World T20 will help a lot,” explained Mithali Raj.
“I’m very happy with our preparations… It has been satisfactory and we are very positive about our chances,” said the Indian captain.
In the World T20, India have been clubbed with Sri Lanka, West Indies and last year’s runners-up England.
“The format is very flexible and the game can turn any way… We can’t underestimate any team. We have a very young side. To a lot of the players, this will be their first World Cup and they are very excited and motivated about it. For players like Jhulan (Goswami) and me, we have played three/four World Cups each… This is a good unit… We are representing India and will play as a team,” said Mithali.
The captain is banking on a good spin attack and hoping the conditions will suit them. “This will be our first outing in Bangladesh. Hopefully, the conditions will be similar to what we experienced here… We’ve had good practice under lights. The camp has really helped us in this regard…
“In these conditions, the spinners are expected to play a big role… That is more often the case. The pitches are expected to turn, but since this is an ICC tournament it could be different… But the nature of the wickets will be slow. Our spinners bowled well in the home series against Sri Lanka.”
Mithali knows England will be a formidable opponent.
“England have a well chalked out calendar. They have a proper schedule and are touring very often. We don’t get to play that many matches … The more matches you play, the more confidence you gain… It’s a strong pool…
“The World Cup will mean a lot of pressure… It will be very important to keep winning.”
It is the hunger for success among the players that has impressed Purnima the most. “The girls are raring to go. They will be playing in an international tournament after a long while and they are hungry for success,” said the coach.
“Mithali is the No.1 Indian batswoman and Jhulan the No.1 pacer. These youngsters will get to play with their idols… They are the role models the youngsters look up to. Their rich presence of experience will guide these youngsters.
“Matthew Hayden once said, ‘I’ve seen god bat at No.4’. After watching Mithali over the years I can only say, ‘I’ve seen goddess bat at No.3.’”
Pointing towards a picture of Kapil Dev holding aloft the 1983 World Cup, Purnima quipped: “This is the moment we’re waiting for… It will change women’s cricket in India.”
Meanwhile, the CAB felicitated the players and the support staff at a function. Each member was handed over a silver plaque by president Jagmohan Dalmiya.