The Indian women’s cricket team skipper Mithali Raj in a press conference said that if the team reaches South Africa early it would help the team to acclimatise to the conditions there.
The Indian women’s team will take on South Africa in a three-match ODI series, which starts at Kimberly on February 5. It would follow a five-match T20 series that will begin on February 13 at Potchefstroom. The team flew to South Africa on Wednesday afternoon.
When asked whether it would help the team or not, Mithali said, “Going early to South Africa and understanding the condition will help us. We had gone early to England, too, ahead of our World Cup campaign there. And it helped us a lot. When you reach early, you have time to acclimatise with conditions, and also get used to the kind of bounce you normally don’t encounter in Asian conditions.”
She added,”We are also expecting a lot of lateral movement because this is the first time when we would be playing with two new balls. We need to assess these things before taking to the field.”
Coach Tushar Arothe also shared the same views. He said ‘We need to get acclimatised, that is very important, and are playing a couple of practise games before the first ODI. We went to the World Cup 10 days early, which helped us.’
“The South Africa team is a very good side and we have seen in the World Cup. They almost made it to the finals, so it’s going to be competitive cricket and it will test each and every player,” he added.
Incidentally, the Indian men’s contingent, which is currently on a South Africa tour, has drawn heavy criticism, and one of the reasons that have been held against them for losing the Test series is not having enough practice in those conditions.
Mithali admits that the impending tour would be a difficult one. ‘I would tell the young girls to start fresh, it is an important tour and it is not going to be easy because we have played South Africa before, we have toured South Africa for the quadrangular series. The South Africa team is a very good side and we have seen in the World Cup, they almost made it to the finals, so it’s going to be competitive cricket and it will test each and every player,’ she said.
The Indian women’s team has been on a break after the World Cup where they stood as runners-up.
However, Mithali said the break aided them to focus on fitness.
‘See, before the World Cup, we have been busy with the qualifiers and the Quad-triangular series and the preparation for the World Cup, so it has been a long season for us. And after the World Cup, it was important for girls to recover, we had few injuries, ideally, we as players would have preferred to have a continuation’but when you have injuries in the side, you need to recover and get back your fitness levels,’ said Mithali.
She also said the girls were in match mode, as they have played enough domestic cricket, and also worked hard on fitness. ”they look agile and fit,’ she added.