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Women's Cricket

"I know our team combination, Harmanpreet will play as vice-captain," says Mithali Raj ahead of the World Cup

Indian captain Mithali Raj feels last few series have helped the team figure out its composition ahead of women's ODI World Cup next month.

I know our team combination, Harmanpreet will play as vice-captain, says Mithali Raj ahead of the World Cup


Updated: 26 Feb 2022 6:30 AM GMT

Indian captain Mithali Raj feels youngsters like Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh have shown that they have the ability to compete at the highest level and the last few series have helped the team figure out its composition ahead of women's ODI World Cup next month.

India tried out some new talents in the series against South Africa, England, Australia and New Zealand ahead of the World Cup beginning on March 4 in New Zealand.

"The talent that we've got in the last year, we've tried some young talent in the squad, and most of them have shown that they have the ability to play at this level like Richa (Ghosh), Shafali (Verma), we have Meghna Singh in the seamers, Pooja Vastrakar," Raj said on the second day of the captains' opening media conferences.

"They all have been given good game time and those series have really helped them and me as a captain to find out where they fit in into the composition of the team. "I definitely know my playing composition for the first couple of games and I look forward to giving game time to all the core players during the warm-up and also to those players who will get opportunity at some point in the world cup."

The veteran batter said that a team needs to have a mix of experience and youth to do well in tournaments. "We do have an experienced core group from last edition. Most of them, even the young players who recently got into the side, had the opportunity of playing in leagues. That gives them exposure other than bilateral series." "When you go into big events you depend on experience not just young players. Having both together is a good mix."

Preparing for a record sixth appearance at an ICC event, Raj said she is looking to continue her rich vein of form. "As far as me personally, I am happy with the way that I've been scoring runs, and I would love to continue the form into the World Cup."

The India captain said she has advised the players who are set to make their debut in the World Cup to not pile up the pressure and enjoy the big stage. "The young talent in the side today, I tell them that you don't have the experience of the past World Cups, so it's a clean slate for you, all you have to do is enjoy the big stage," she said.

"I did have a word with Yastika (Bhatia) the other day, I took her out for a coffee and we've spoken quite a bit, she's a chatty kid and asked me a lot of questions. "The only advice I would give the young players is enjoy the big stage because if you pile up the pressure you may not be playing the best that the team and you would want to do in the World Cup."

The ICC recently said that all matches at the World Cup could be played with nine players in case of a COVID-19 outbreak. "I wouldn't want to give it much thought as I would want my full strength to play but considering the current situation, if at all the situation arises it gives us an opportunity to get a game because every team prepared very hard, it was postponed by a year so it is important to get the event going," Raj said.

In the just-concluded five-match ODI series, India managed to deny hosts New Zealand a cleansweep by winning the final game by six wickets. "The win is important for any team which is getting into a big event. The take away definitely is how the batting unit has turned out in each game. The bowling unit took a bit of time," she said.

"The spinners that we bank on, they do also understand these wickets are batting friendly and they need top tighten up line and lengh and bowl consistently. "We definitely also look to put more effort on fielding, it is an area we are consistently working on."

In the last two ODIs against New Zealand all-rounder Deepti Sharma served as Raj's deputy. However, the skipper confirmed senior batter Harmanpreet Kaur, who roared back to form with a match-winning 63-run knock, will be India's designated vice-captain at the World Cup. Raj also confirmed that senior batter Harmanpreet Kaur India will begin its world cup campaign against Pakistan on March 6.

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