Focussed on ODI World Cup: Mithali, Coach Powar

We are focussed on ODI World Cup, Australia tour is good preparation: Mithali, Powar

The Indian team is leaving for Australia on Wednesday to play three ODIs, a day-night Test and three T20Is

Indian skipper Mithali Raj. Credit: AP Photo

Indian women's ODI team captain Mithali Raj and coach Ramesh Powar on Saturday said the side is currently focussed on next year's World Cup and the tour of Australia will serve as ideal preparation for the mega event.

The Indian team is leaving for Australia on Wednesday to play three ODIs, a day-night Test and three T20Is.

"We need to understand that we are playing three ODIs first and we are focussing right now on the World Cup preparation," Powar said during a pre-departure press conference, even as questions revolved around the Pink ball Test against Australia.

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"Regarding the one-off Test match we have to carry our one-day confidence into Test match. We don't have to prepare separately as we back our players in all formats. We try to inculcate how we should approach every format."

The Australia tour will begin with the ODIs series, starting with the first game at the North Sydney Oval on September 19, followed by the second and third matches at the Junction Oval on September 22 and 24 respectively.

The women's 50-over World Cup is slated to be held in New Zealand in March-April next year.

Skipper Mithali said, "We know the areas we needed to improve and we worked and addressed those issues during the preparatory camp in Bangalore.

"Whatever results are there in Australia we still have few months for the World Cup. Australia tour is good for us because we are playing against the best, we will also get an idea about the team combination before the World Cup. So Australia tour is a good game plan before the Word Cup."

In his second tenure as the women's national team coach, Powar said the team management is hoping to strengthen the fast bowling department in order to cut down the burden on veteran Jhulan Goswami.

"We are looking for consistency in fast bowling so that Jhulan can express herself, else she will be forced to become defensive and we don't want that situation," Powar said.

"We have to have support for Jhulan Goswami, we need to find her a partner so that she can bowl in partnership. We are focussing on Meghna Singh and we are looking forward to Pooja Vastrakar also.

"Once the selectors and team management decide on the final 20-25 players, we stay on the same page when we go into a series," he added.

Seam bowlers Meghna and Renuka Singh Thakur were handed maiden India call-ups, while left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad returned to the teams for the upcoming contests against Australia.

Mithali acknowledged that the pink ball Test is going to be a challenge for the players.

"It is going to be big because most of the questions are revolving about the pink ball than one-day cricket.

"The challenge would be more playing under lights. And also playing with the pink ball as we are all used to the red cherry. We have got feedbacks from the men."

The ODI and Test skipper, a seasoned campaigner with an experience of over two decades, said a tour of Australia continues to be one of the toughest in international cricket.

"We don't go into a match with a set mindset as it depends on the situation. We want our team to go with a lot of confidence, without thinking about the grey areas.

"We know that we are playing the best side in the world and we will need to bring our 'A' game. But we are also very fortunate to have a camp of some 30 girls, with match simulation, matches under lights, we have pretty much done whatever we could with our preparation," Mithali said.

Perth will host the pink-ball one-off Test scheduled from September 30, followed by the T20Is at the North Sydney Oval on October 7, 9 and 11.

"Looking at the current situation we are happy to go to Australia and keep playing cricket. After England we had a one month break and we back ourselves to do well, we have played enough in the Bangalore camp and are prepared for any format," Powar said.

According to recent reports, the Indian team's schedule in Australia could be altered due to the border restriction and Covid-19 lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne.

Asked about it, Powar said, "We are looking forward to a tour which is challenging and we all are excited to go there and put in our best effort to make it a good tour."

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