We are ready for England: Mithali Raj
The Mithali Raj-led Indian team will take on defending champions England in their second game of the 2013 ICC Women’s World Cup on Sunday at the Brabourne Stadium. Speaking to the media ahead of their practice session yesterday, the Indian captain said, “I am sure England will field a strong side against us in tomorrow’s game, and we are prepared for them.”
With Sri Lanka causing an upset against England in their opening game of the World Cup, the tournament has thrown if fair share of surprises already. “I did say the other day that the tournament was open, because each and every team is scoring heavily, more than 200 plus, and they are able chase. So, definitely the tournament is open after yesterday’s upset,” Raj said.
So, has the gap between various teams narrowed down? “Yes because now teams like Sri Lanka, Pakistan or say South Africa seem lot more confident, because they keep playing lot of games amongst themselves and when they come into the World Cup, getting a track like this gives them a lot of confidence,” Raj observed.
Meanwhile, England will be keen to open their account when they clash with the hosts. While discussing the English side, Raj added, “I think England has got a very good batting line-up, but I don’t think they are very strong in their bowling attack other than Katherine Brunt; they heavily depend on her for breakthroughs.”
“We have played England last year as well, and most of our batsmen are very comfortable playing their bowlers. But then again, I would say that tomorrow is a different day; we are expecting all kinds of situations and we are prepared for anything,” Raj added.
Asked if Sarah Taylor’s absence had a bearing on England’s loss to Sri Lanka, Raj opined, “I think she being one of England’s mainstays and a very good compact No.3 batter, who has been scoring runs, it probably was just unfortunate for her not to play that game. But I think without her also England had a very good batting line-up.”
Asked if there are any adjustments that they need to make or prepare differently while they alternate between day and day-night games, Raj explained, “I don’t think there is a lot to get adjusted to because this part of the country is humid, it’s not real winter like what we get up north where the dew factor or moisture is heavily. Having said that, because the matches start at 9 am, there will be a little bit of assistance for the bowlers, which I saw in yesterday’s game. Other than that I think the wicket is behaving beautifully in both the innings.”
“I would definitely tell my girls to be very positive and very confident. Sometimes when you are well prepared, you also need to face some tough situations. I think playing a day game will not affect us much because what we saw in the day game yesterday was that the ball was not doing much, [except] maybe in the initial four-five overs. Other than that I think it was the same throughout the day,” the Indian skipper said.
India will be banking on their openers to once again set the platform when they take on England. Opener Poonam Raut, who played a key role in India’s victory in the first game against West Indies, is confident and keen to carry forward the momentum. Speaking to the media about her innings and the boost that it has given her, she said, “I definitely got confidence from that innings. I would like to play the entire World Cup with the same confidence and that will be good for my team as well.”
Raut, who is playing at her home ground and was continuously cheered by the home crowd during her knock, added, “Obviously, you feel good when there is a match on your home ground. There is a bit of pressure, but it feels good that there are supporters for you. I am glad that they came to see the match. And they had good wishes for me and had expectations, which I fulfilled.”
Speaking about the popularity of women’s cricket, skipper Raj said, “Because it is a big event, the World Cup itself attracts a lot of people and lot media coverage. If you have more games followed on television, not only the people who watch it play, but there are a lot of people around the world who watch Star Cricket [who’ll will see it]. And with matches televised on regular basis on Star Cricket, I am sure women’s cricket in India will catch up. People always come up to me to know about the forthcoming international series for India, so that they can follow the performances of the team.”