Harmanpreet Kaur knows she must lead by example, her batting skills have become better, says Anjum Chopra ahead of women’s cricket debut @ CWG | Commonwealth Games 2022 News – Times of India
India is in Group A with Australia, Pakistan an Barbados. The highly anticipated India vs Pakistan match is scheduled to be played on July 31 in Edgbaston, Birmingham.
Former India captain Anjum Chopra was a guest on Times of India’s sports podcast Sportscast recently an talked about the debut of women’s cricket at the CWG, the current Indian women’s T20 squad, Harmanpreet Kaur the captain, what it is like to play cricket for medals and not trophies and more.
The following are excerpts of the chat with Anjum Chopra on TOI Sportscast:
On how big a shot in the arm it is for women’s cricket to be included in the commonwealth Games…
‘It is important. At the end of the day when you have cricket trying to reach a global stage, when you have more and more nations starting to play cricket – so one is that angle. Even if it isn’t the men’s team playing, it’s the women’s team that’s playing. All the nations that participate in the WC – the top 12 to 14 teams – most of them will be in the Commonwealth. So, you are showcasing the sport in totality, even if it’s via the CWG, at least you are showcasing the sport. So, that is a very important factor going ahead looking at the growth of women’s cricket globally or the growth of cricket globally, more than (going beyond) the nations that are already playing the sport. For women’s cricket, six months down the line there will be a WC coming up in the T20 format (in SA) and this (CWG) helps every nation (which is participating) to build a team. Also, the more competitive cricket that the girls play, it will always help. We talk about exposure in international sport – exposure at this level – when you know there is a medal at stake and not a trophy – I am pretty certain that if you are a part of a set-up where you can earn a medal and you win a medal even if you come third, I am sure there is a difference in the approach as well,’ Anjum said on TOI Sportscast.
On whether India can make the knockouts…
‘I won’t put too much pressure on Harmanpreet Kaur and say that – ‘Oh she must deliver’. I think for her as a cricketer today, she realises, because she is one of the most professional cricketers in the world today, it’s important for her to lead by example. In the recent series vs Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, I felt that her batting has become better. Over the past couple of seasons we felt that Harman was coming (back) into form and yet not scoring enough runs or there was some difference in approach or not finishing gams, but what I saw in Sri Lanka was a Harmanpreet Kaur batting the way it has made her Harmanpreet Kaur, skill-wise. And if that is not suffering, then I am sure, with the kind of experience she has, I am sure it will propel a cricketer to deliver the goods and that’s going to be the freshness the team actually requires as well. We saw that in Sri Lanka in parts. The weather in Sri Lanka and the weather in Birmingham is not going to be too different because right now there is a heat wave there (laughs). I am sure as the team goes along they would want to make an impression,’ Anjum said on TOI Sportscast.
🚨 NEWS 🚨: #TeamIndia (Senior Women) squad for Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games announced. #B2022 |… https://t.co/6b0oTV2DfF
— BCCI Women (@BCCIWomen) 1657557561000
On whether there will be more pressure than a bilateral international series on the cricketers at the CWG or less…
‘There won’t be any pressure on any of the cricketers. I think self expectation will be there for every player because they know that this is one tournament but it is (also) the start of a season for every team, every nation. Some of them are already in England, for example the SA women have already been there for the last 30-35 days. For every team this is like the start of the season and the finale will be the World Cup (Women’s T20 WC in Feb 2023) in South Africa. So I don’t think that they would want to take it (CWG) lightly. Approaching a new tournament, the freshness will be there. It’s not going to be of the magnitude of an ICC event, but it will have a presence of its own. I think everyone would want to make the best impression in a tournament like this. There might be some hockey player who might come and watch your game or some other athlete, which has rarely been there for the women’s game and simultaneously you will go and support some of the other discipline players because you are there as an Indian contingent,’ Anjum said on TOI Sportscast.
On India’s medal chances overall at CWG 2022 in women’s cricket…
‘When you get into a contest and the first match lined up is India vs Australia you get a sense that the organisers want two big nations to clash (in the opener). Yes, Australia has got the better of India most number of times in any format, but there is always an India-Australia competitive rivalry in any format. Also, Australia hasn’t played a lot of cricket going into the CWG. They have travelled to Ireland but their games have been restricted and they are coming off a winter, so the season has been restricted for them so far. But the Indian team is going in after having played a decent amount of cricket. After the World Cup in April, they didn’t play for a few weeks and then they played the Women’s T20 challenge and after that the team went to Sri Lanka. However that doesn’t put them on a stronger footing against Australia, but it does provide that momentum, that extra bit. And that might be the edge that the Indian team requires. You never know, an upset might happen and I say upset because Australia are the (Women’s) T20 World Champions….Harmanpreet Kaur will leave no stone unturned to make sure that the team gets the success required. She knows that it hasn’t been an easy ride for her to reach this position in the Indian team and she knows how she is regarded internationally as a cricketer, so I am sure she is going to get that extra zeal from the team,’ Anjum further said on TOI Sportscast.
On the India squad that has been picked for CWG 2022…
‘(The Indian T20 team for the CWG) is pretty balanced. In the T20 format Jemimah Rodrigues comes in, Radha Yadav becomes a very important member. Richa Ghosh misses out, Simran Bahadur misses out. Poonam Yadav is not part of the 15. So, at last those 18-19 are the same ones who have been travelling with the Indian team. I still feel that the Indian team would be wanting to firm up their middle order, because that’s essential. You can’t just rely on your openers and good knocks from a Harmanpreet Kaur or a Deepti Sharma. The team will know that it is essential to have a strong middle order. They have the luxury of playing more all-rounders, so they have more bowling and batting options. But those batting options are not big hitters and that is why they need a strong middle and lower order,’ Anjum further said on TOI Sportscast.
On the slots that are still very much open in the women’s T20 team with an eye on the World Cup next year…
‘The middle order is absolutely open. The lower middle order is also open right now. I have had discussions with the stakeholders about how we can look at strengthening the middle order, what kind of players are required. It’s no rocket science that they have to hit the ball a long way to hit those runs, but we don’t have that in our domestic cricket where somebody from the middle order has made an impact on the game. It is always the top order that makes an impact. Look at this Indian team, including the reserves and see where they bat for their domestic teams. They all bat between 1 and 4. So for the Indian team the not so good thing is that they don’t have a number 5, 6 or 7 who can go out there and bat according to the situation. Because they are good batters and they have scored runs, they deserve to be in the Indian team, but they are not playing in their (usual) positions . So I think the Indian team should look at consolidating the middle order as much as possible because in the coming years that is going to be the game changer for them,’ Anjum further said on TOI Sportscast.
You can listen to the full episode of TOI Sportscast with Anjum Chopra here