The Indian women’s cricket team had a series of discussions at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru ahead of its tour of Sri Lanka. During one of those long sessions, captain Harmanpreet Kaur asked her teammates about the one area the team needed to focus on going forward.
Pooja Vastrakar, one of the key all-rounders, raised her hand and said, “we need that killing attitude…” Those present at the discussion appreciated the response and took a pledge to develop that indomitable spirit in the series against Sri Lanka and Australia.
That mindset helped the Women in Blue clinch the ODI and T20I series against Sri Lanka earlier this month. Now, as the team gears up for its Commonwealth Games opening encounter against Australia at Edgbaston on Friday, Harmanpreet says her side is working on imbibing the ‘killing attitude’ to tame the opponent.
“Whenever we are training and practising, we are trying to create that mahaul (environment). We keep talking about that killing attitude, and right now, we are working on that,” Harmanpreet said on the eve of the opening game. “Australia is a good team, but I can only talk about my team. The killing attitude is something we all are working on…”
Onus on youth
During the discussion at the NCA, Harmanpreet was also impressed with how the younger players were coming up with ideas. “Earlier, the senior players would normally advise the team on how to tackle various situations. But now, it was good to see the youngsters taking the onus and coming up with plans,” Harmanpreet said.
The India captain trained with a golf club at the nets a couple of days ago to get into the rhythm. Asked about the preparation, she said, “It was during the warm-up, and whenever I go out to bat at the nets, I use a golf club so that I can warm up. In T20s, there are times when you need to go and hit from the first ball, so it is important to be fit, and that was the whole idea…”
“My trainer introduced me to this practice. There are times when you go into a match and need to go big right from the start. That could lead to chances of injury. That was the reason he advised me to train with the golf club before walking out to bat. That helps me with my wrist and shoulder warm-up, and when I get a chance to bat, it helps me in swinging the bat better,” she said.
Although previously Australia has had the upper hand over India, Harmanpreet does not want to dwell on the past. “First game is always important because you have to set the tone, and then you can take things accordingly. Other teams are also importan,t and we have plans for them, but we want to take one game at a time, and our focus is on the first game…”
Even though the team did not have a close look at the wicket, the Indian team believes the surface will benefit both the batters and the bowlers. “We trained yesterday but could not look at the wicket as there were chances of rain. We did get some time at the nets, and I think it would be similar. It was looking like a very nice batting track,” Harmanpreet said. “We expect to get help from the bowlers with the weather and grass on the wicket. It will be favourable for both batters and the bowlers. I think instead of thinking about what is going to happen with the pitch. We should just execute the plans. That will help us…”
The team has never played at Edgbaston before and the side is likely to miss the services of S. Meghana and Pooja for the first match. They had to postpone their travel to Birmingham due to COVID-19. However, the team management believes it is important for the batters to shine. “We still have a balanced side. We just need to shuffle our batting order and bowling, and we are working on that…”
After the opening game against Australia, India will face Pakistan, but Harmanpreet is not taking any additional pressure. “When we were growing up, every time the men’s team took on Pakistan, there was a passion. But you don’t think about these things when you are playing, your only focus is on how you can do well. Only that matters when you enter the ground,” Harmanpreet said. “But yes, I remember how we used to get excited as kids during India-Pakistan games, but as players, these things don’t matter. The main thing is your performance and how you execute the plans…”
Women’s T20 cricket is making its debut at the Commonwealth Games, and as part of that historic moment, the Indian players want to make every opportunity count.