India women’s coach WV Raman has said that his side is one of the favourites for the upcoming women’s T20 World Cup, which begins in Australia from February 21.
The Indian team has made the final and semi-final of the tournament in the previous two editions, and will be looking to go one better this time by winning the tournament. And Raman lauded the improvements the team had made in all departments since those tournaments.
“Definitely one of the favourites. They made people sit up and take notice in the 2017 World Cup and the 2018 T20 World Cup,” Raman told ESPNCricinfo when asked about his side’s chances.
“Since then there has been a lot of improvement, in terms of fitness, agility on the field and their approach to batting. They have been shaping well over the last six months. It is more or less a better and settled team than perhaps what it was when I took over. These girls have a very good chance in this World Cup.”
Assessing the balance of the side, Raman continued, “The squad is well balanced because you have players from different age groups and varying experience. It has a good unit of batters in which each one can be a match-winner on her own. The spinners have been exceptional in the last year in all formats.
“As far as the medium-pacers are concerned, we have multidimensional cricketers, because Arundhati Reddy and Pooja Vastrakar are good fielders and they can also chip in with the bat. Now that Harman (Harmanpreet Kaur) has started bowling on a regular basis, that’s also going to give us a lot of flexibility.”
However, Raman sought to downplay too much hype and expectation from the younger members of his squad, specially 16-year-old Shafali Varma who has been touted as the next big thing in Indian women’s cricket. “She is special, but I would request the media not to go gaga over her, because she is barely 16, and too much attention is not good for her at this stage. I have given her the freedom to play the way she has been playing. She has shown she has the talent. She is fearless. She is unique,” he said.
“She is extremely positive. She has the ability to score runs quickly. She can hit the ball hard and she looks to get runs. She is at a stage and an age where it doesn’t make sense to put anything into her. She needs to be allowed to be figure it out for herself. That will come with experience.
“I was also impressed with the way she worked on her range of shots in the few weeks between the home series against South Africa and the West Indies tour. When she played some of the shots in the West Indies, it was a clear indication that during her spare time she starts improving on her range of shots and she executes them fearlessly. What more do you want? As a coach, I see the rate and the way at which the player improves.”
Finally, Raman spoke about what it would take for the Indian team to go all the way in the tournament, and referred to the mentality shown by Kapil Dev’s victorious 1983 team.
“The way all of them want to do well and take up responsibility will be evident regardless of how things pan out. They are definitely in with a good chance and they have an opportunity to create history, ” he stated.
“If they end up doing that, they will probably do what Kapil’s (Dev’s World Cup-winning) team did for Indian cricket in 1983. And they will become superstars if they go on to win.
“Our chances will be better if we can strike an emotional balance. The T20 format produces emotional highs and lows, so if our girls can strike a balance, if they can manage their emotions without having heavy fluctuations, I’m sure we are in with an even better chance.”