Auckland: India women’s cricket team skipper Mithali Raj is satisfied with the talent she has at her disposal going into the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup here from March 4, adding that most of them “have the ability to play at this level”.
This will be Mithali’s record sixth appearance in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup and the veteran cricketer hoped that the tough five-match ODI series against the hosts would have prepared her side for the showpiece tournament.
While India lost the series 1-4, they stood up to the challenge in most games, and only some individual brilliance from the White Ferns players helped the hosts take the series.
“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. 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,” said Mithali at a captains’ interaction organised by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Saturday.
Mithali said she was satisfied with her form and would like to keep scoring during the course of the tournament. India play their opening game against arch-rivals Pakistan on March 6.
“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.”
With her vast experience at World Cups, the India captain has also been passing on her knowledge to those set to make their debut.
“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 tell 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.”
Mithali’s rival captain in the opening World Cup game, Pakistan skipper Bismah Maroof, said she has her eyes on a top-four spot; perhaps something bigger. With Pakistan taking on India in their opening game, Maroof knows the impact the match will have.
“I think this World Cup is very important to us and we really want to make it count. I hope this World Cup will provide further boost for the women’s game. I hope we will have some great matches. India-Pakistan is the most followed match around the world, and we definitely want the girls to be inspired and I hope this match is an interesting one. The girls who are looking up to us will be inspired,” Maroof said.
“Coming into this World Cup, we have set a goal — to reach the semifinals. If you’re not aiming for that then there is no point of playing. The girls are in good shape and they know what the expectations for them are and hopefully we can do well as a team.”
Maroof is making her World Cup return after having her daughter.
“I think we have a bright future, the mindset has changed in Pakistan and the girls want to play cricket, they want to play professional cricket. That mindset has changed, and I hope we can inspire a lot of girls in Pakistan after this World Cup by putting on a good show.”