Harmanpreet Kaur: SL tour great opportunity to build a team for the future

Harmanpreet Kaur has been the captain of India’s Women’s T20 side for quite a while, but the tour against Sri Lanka beginning next week will see her lead in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) as well after Mithali Raj retired from all forms of cricket earlier this month.

A series against Sri Lanka was always a challenge but having one captain across formats will help the team, felt Harmanpreet.

“I have been leading the T20 side for a long time and now this time, I am getting an opportunity to lead the ODI side as well. I think things will be easy because when two different captains were there, sometimes things were not easy because we both had different ideas. Now, it’s easy for me to tell them what I am expecting from them and things will be much easier for me and my team-mates as well,” Harmanpreet said on Saturday.

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Harmanpreet said she wanted to score as many runs as possible in the series against Sri Lanka.

“I want to score maximum runs for my team. Batting is something that’s very important. Leading a team will be the second part because as a batter, if I can do well, it will be easy for me,” she said.

Open to new ideas

The captain said she was open to “newer ideas” and ready to encourage the all-rounders. “We have seen Shafali [Verma] doing well with her bowling. As captain, I am open to ideas. Whoever is doing well in both the departments, I will definitely give them an opportunity. I did not get too many opportunities to bowl, but this time, whoever is doing well, I will give them a chance to prove themselves,” Harmanpreet said.

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Taking over from Mithali, who has had a long and illustrious career, won’t not be an easy task, admitted Harmanpreet. But she said she wants to take the team to greater heights.

‘Mithali di has done great for women’s cricket. I don’t think there’s anyone who can fill her place. We are working hard on our team where we can create some combinations, but if we talk about Mithali di, I don’t think there is anyone who can take her place and we will always miss her in our dressing room.’

“Mithali di has done great for women’s cricket. I don’t think there’s anyone who can fill her place. We are working hard on our team where we can create some combinations, but if we talk about Mithali di, I don’t think there is anyone who can take her place and we will always miss her in our dressing room,” she said.

“If I talk about our team, I think we have a great combination and for us, it’s a good tour to start. First time, we will be playing without our seniors, so it is a great opportunity to build a team and we have done great preparation during the NCA camp,” Harmanpreet said.

Team targets

So what’s the new target that the side has set for itself?

“We did set some goals during the World Cup where we were looking to score 300 runs, but we were able to reach around 270-280. We want to score more than 300 runs now because we have some players who are playing really good cricket. If we set bigger targets, then we can look at something [bigger]. As a batting department, that’s what we are going to do.

“Even in bowling, we want to give opportunities to youngsters who can bowl 10 overs for us and look for breakthroughs. We are working on some little things, we will look to fulfil our plans,” she said.

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Coach Ramesh Powar stressed on consistency. The former India off-spinner feels that it is important to build a team that can perform in all conditions. “We are looking at consistency and winning habits. We all came together and we have already spoken to the BCCI and with V. V. S. Laxman – the head of cricket at NCA. We are trying to work on our fielding, fitness and take our players to the next level. That’s the immediate goal that we are trying to achieve,” Powar said.

“Moving forward, we want to win World Cups, but it’s important to build a squad that can compete in every condition and against every opponent. That’s what we are working on.”

Sneh Rana, who had a great season last year, has been omitted from the India squad for the tour of Sri Lanka. Speaking about her absence, Powar said, “Sneh has been rested for this series and she is in the NCA, working on her fitness. Moving forward, the FTP that we have, there are about 20-35 T20 games, we want our players fresh for all the series. We want to manage the workload of the bowling unit as well as the batting unit. We are trying to balance it out. As of now, she is being rested and is working on her fitness…”

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