India Women captain credits all-rounder Pooja Vastrakar for suggesting idea that team has adopted from Sri Lanka tour.
The last time India Women played tournament cricket in England, chaos ensued as they lost seven wickets inside 35 deliveries and lost the 2017 World Cup final at Lord’s by a mere nine runs. The last time they played tournament cricket anywhere was four months ago at the 2022 World Cup when a no-ball in the last over of the chase helped South Africa eliminate the 2017 runner-ups. The two results saw the team crumble under pressure in the dying moments of a big match. As they walk into another major tournament, at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, captain Harmanpreet Kaur has assured that the side has put in effort to forge a “killing attitude.”
“Before the Sri Lanka tour, we had a players-only meeting. I had asked all the girls, ‘what is the thing that we want to set for our team?’ Pooja (Vastrakar) had given a very good answer, ‘killing attitude,’” the 33-year old said in a press conference on the eve of India’s opening match against Australia at Edgbaston on Friday.
“Whenever we are doing something – playing, training – we are trying to create that mahaul (atmosphere) where everybody speaks of just this…that killing attitude is something that right now everybody in our team is talking about.
“When we were discussing with the players, everyone was saying when we do well in the match, we continue with that…when we don’t, everyone’s body language isn’t in sync. At that moment, it is important for the unit to be together, ” said Kaur, who went into the Sri Lanka series as the newly-appointed India white-ball captain after Mithali Raj announced her international retirement.
The India captain also praised 22-year old all-rounder Pooja Vastrakar for her input that was agreed upon during the team meeting. “When she said that, I felt really nice. She is someone who has been doing really good for some time now. She came up and said we have to play like that. That was the reason I mentioned this. A lot of the time, it is only the senior players who come and give in ideas. This time, other players were also talking and giving their ideas on what type of cricket and approach we want to continue in the nets and the upcoming tournaments.”
India did register five wins across the three T20Is and as many ODIs in Sri Lanka, but the Birmingham Commonwealth Games will be the first big stage to test the brand of cricket they’ve planned about.
India line up in Group A alongside Australia, Pakistan and Barbados. While the gap in terms of world titles and match wins in recent times favors Australia, the volatile nature of T20 cricket and the quickfire format of the tournament means every team has a chance to progress to the semi-finals.
“Winning against all the teams is important when you play in a tournament like this,” Kaur said. “But the first game is always important because you have to set the tone for the team. You can then just keep following the things that are happening for you. Right now our focus is on the first day.”
A highly-anticipated fixture of the group is the India vs Pakistan match on Sunday. When asked if the hype around the game meant more pressure for her and the team, Kaur cited her memory as a fan and stated that it contrasted with her thinking as a player.
“When we were growing, we saw these things when the men were playing and the pressure was always there. I think when you play you don’t think about these things, your only focus is on how you can do well. When we were small, I know how we used to get excited for India-Pakistan matches but as a player, these things don’t matter.”
Harmanpreet Kaur on her golf-club training session
A day ahead of the opening ceremony, the visuals of the Indian captain training with a golf driver at the Moseley ground raised plenty of eyebrows. It was only given that she would be asked a question about the same in the media interaction a day later.
“In the T20 format, sometimes you have to go and hit from the first ball. There are chances you can get injured. That was the reason he gave me that warm-up club. Before going to bat, if I have to bat late in the order, I can use that for my wrist warm-up, for my shoulder warm-up so that whenever my turn comes, I feel ready to go and swing the bat. It’s helping me. I’ve tried these things for the last couple of series.”