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UP coach Lewis hopes Vrinda, Rajeshwari deliver on 'home' turf

While Deepti Sharma will spearhead the set of Indians in the side, the seasoned Rajeshwari Gayakwad and young Vrinda Dinesh are the Karnataka representatives for UPW who begin their campaign against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on Feb 24.
Last Updated 21 February 2024, 20:37 IST

Bengaluru: Led by Australia’s Alyssa Healy, the UP Warriorz lost by 72 runs to eventual champions Mumbai Indians in the eliminator to finish third in the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL) last March. 

With the squad busy sweating it out in the pre-tournament camp here, coach Jon Lewis has placed his bet on their fielding department and the Indian girls in the team to do the trick for an improved show in the event that kicks off on February 23 at the M Chinnaswamy stadium. 

“We have been working very hard on our fielding. Something we weren’t particularly good at last year. Not unbelievably bad but we weren’t amazing,” the 48-year-old Englishman told DH

Keeping in mind a batting-friendly pitch that will be made full use of by captain Healy and fellow Aussie Grace Harris, Sri Lanka’s Chamari Athapaththu and England’s Dani Wyatt, Lewis said: Our batting group is incredibly strong. My hope is that our local players will try and contribute to that batting line-up. And if they do, we have got an exciting side."

While Deepti Sharma will spearhead the set of Indians in the side, the seasoned Rajeshwari Gayakwad and young Vrinda Dinesh are the Karnataka representatives for UPW who begin their campaign against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on Feb 24. 

“Well I suppose all the pressure will be on RCB, won’t it be? Because no one will expect us to win. We are a little UP (side) and we are going to go in and put in a fighting performance against what is a massive franchise on home turf. You could call it home advantage but you could also call it home disadvantage,” noted Lewis. 

Speaking about the role of Healy as the leader of the pack, Lewis heaped praise on the 33-year-old wicketkeeper and also the captain of the current Australian side. 

“First and foremost, she is a really good person. And she loves cricket and she loves competing. So we will talk about cricket and philosophise and how to get the best out of this group of people. Having multiple captaincy experiences is sure to help her make better decisions on and off the field.” 

Healy is not the only one juggling multiple important roles between a national side and franchise leagues. Lewis, a former Sussex and England cricketer, is the head coach of England women’s cricket team. How different, then, could the same role be? 

“The ultimate goal is that you want to win competitions. So there is no difference there,” he said.

“But there is a massive difference in the time frame. So with the English national side, I'm able to take my time and really think things through and prioritise competitions like WCs and the Ashes series. We can take calculated risks with selection and deselection. I can decide when to develop players and choose to do it over the course of time in a calendar year or over the course of 2-3-4 years. 

“In franchise cricket, you come in and you have a very short period of time to make an impact and you have to gel with a group of people really quickly. And then you have to get your team to a good start in every competition. That’s my main focus here too,” explained Lewis.

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(Published 21 February 2024, 20:37 IST)

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