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Australia tour will help Indian women’s progress: Mithali Raj

Mithali Raj

The upcoming tour of Australia will help the Indian women’s cricket team to improve their chances of winning the World T20 championships at home, captain Mithali Raj said here today.

“We will be touring Australia for the first time since 2009. Though the wickets there will be different, with a lot of bounce, it will help us in preparing for the World T20 Championships. We will get a lot of exposure and also get a chance to analyse and see where we stand,” said Mithali at a pre-departure media conference.

The tour comprises three T20 games at Adelaide (January 26), Melbourne (January 29) and Sydney (Jan 31) followed by the two ODIs at Canberra (Feb 2) and Hobart (February 5).

The women’s T20 World Championships will be held concurrently with the men’s competition in India.

“The ODIs are also important as we won the last series against New Zealand but lost out a spot in the women’s World Cup on points. We need to be in the top four to qualify for the 2017 World Cup,” said the 33-year-old Mithali.

Mithali said though she did not want to comment on the men’s team’s performance in the ongoing ODI series in Australia, she and her team members had watched the action on television and gained inputs about the kind of wickets they would encounter.

“After the 2009 Australian tour, we have played mostly in Asia and England,” she said.

Mithali said the time was ripe for the Cricket Board to commence an Indian Premier League for women too and also revealed that she and seasoned all-rounder Jhulan Goswami had been invited to play in the Australian Women’s Big Bash League by the Adelaide franchise but had to drop the idea as it clashed with the domestic programme.

“The T20 World Championship is very important in terms of popularising women’s cricket in India. If we do well in the tournament, it may lead to setting up of IPL for women too,” she said.

Team’s coach Poornima Rau said the Indian girls now needed to play bold and entertaining cricket even if it meant losing.

“It’s time they play beyond themselves,” she said.

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