Good opening stand was key: Mithali Raj
It was an ideal beginning for India Women as they opened their account in the 2013 ICC Women’s World Cup with a thumping victory over the West Indies at the Brabourne Stadium. The Mithali Raj-led side set the opposition a stiff target and then bundled them out for a modest total.
Reflecting on the game while interacting with the media, Raj discussed the importance of a good opening stand and the perfect start to the tournament. “Definitely [it was a perfect start] because the way [M] Thirush [Kamini] batted and the partnership with Poonam [Raut] was very important. I am hoping that they will continue this against [other] good sides as well. It is very important, whether you bat or field, you need to have a good opening stand from your batters. […] And on a batting track, that’s what we expected, that they give us a good start so that the middle order can go and pile up more runs.”
After the fantastic partnership that set the tone for the game, Raj promoted Jhulan Goswami and Harmanpreet Kaur ahead of her in the batting line-up at No.3 and 4 respectively. Explaining the move, she said, “The way they started and went on till almost close to the second powerplay. And they played the powerplay as well. I thought it was wise to send players who could slog or who can throw the bat around and get those runs. We did prepare a couple of batsmen especially for the slog, so it was time to send them out and that definitely paid off for us. Jhulan and Harman’s cameos upped the run-rate at a very important time.”
“If I had won the toss, I would have batted. On a flat track like this it is better to put up a huge total on the board rather than chasing 285 runs. There will always be pressure while chasing. It was surprising that they won the toss and opted to bowl,” the Indian captain added.
Asked if the 285-run target was chaseable, she replied, “It is chaseable provided someone from the top order gets a hundred like Thriush Kamini got, or a couple a fifties. When you are chasing there, will definitely be pressure to maintain the run-rate.”
Speaking about Deandra Dottin’s quick fire 16-ball 39 that threatened to change the course of the game, Raj said, “I was only thinking about where she got so much strength to clear the boundary, and that too repeatedly. I wouldn’t say that the bowlers were bowling badly, but she played very well. I give her credit for playing such wonderful strokes. [...] But that period was a little dangerous; we were all a little nervous and I am glad that she didn’t continue.”
Asked about possible changes ahead of the next game, the Indian captain said, “Yes, we will look into that aspect when we decide the team. Before the game against England, it was very important that we win this match. And the kind of form the batters and bowlers are in, I think it is going to be very positive because England is definitely a good side and we need to upgrade our performance to match theirs and beat them. And since they are the world champions in this format, it will be a tough competition.”
Speaking about how strongly they expect England to come at them after the performance today, Raj said, “They have come here ten days before to prepare and adapt to these conditions. So, their preparations are intact; so are we. And the way the girls have performed today, it definitely gives us a bit more confidence. And with this kind of confidence, against England we are capable of putting up the same kind of performance; but much better. Both the teams have played [against each other] last year and know the players and the kind of attacks we possess. […] And to see an Indian team scoring 284, I am sure that now the tournament is open.”
Raj had spoken about the significance of fielding ahead of the tournament opener. Talking about the team’s performance in that area, she said, “Fielding has been good. More than the fielding, our bowling was of good quality because of which fielding wasn’t tested much. But maybe it will be tested against teams like England, Australia and New Zealand.”