India are in Group A with Australia, Pakistan and Barbados. The highly anticipated game between India and Pakistan is set to be played on July 31 at Edgbaston, Birmingham.
Former captain of India Anjum Chopra was a guest on the Times of India’s Sportscast sports podcast and recently spoke about the early days of women’s cricket at CTMthe current Indian women’s team T20, Harmanpreet Kaur the captain, what it’s like to play cricket for medals not trophies and more.
Here are excerpts from the conversation with Anjum Chopra on TOI Sportscast:
How important it is for women’s cricket to be included in the Commonwealth Games…
‘It is important. At the end of the day, when cricket tries to reach a global stage, when more and more nations start playing cricket, so one is this angle. Even if it’s not the men’s team that plays, it’s the women’s team that plays. All nations participating in the World Championship – the top 12-14 teams – most of them will be in the Commonwealth. So you’re presenting the sport as a whole, even if it’s through the CWG, at least you’re presenting the sport. It is therefore a very important factor for the growth of women’s cricket in the world or the growth of cricket in the world, more than (beyond) the nations that already play this sport. For women’s cricket, six months later there will be a WC in T20 format (in South Africa) and this (CWG) helps each nation (participating) to put together a team. Also, the more competitive cricket the girls are playing, that will always help. We talk about exposure in international sport – exposure at this level – when you know there’s a medal at stake and not a trophy – I’m pretty sure if you’re part of a system where you can win a medal and you can win a medal even if you come third, I’m sure there’s a difference in approach too,’ Anjum said on TOI Sportscast.
If India can knockout…
“I won’t put too much pressure on Harmanpreet Kaur and say that – ‘Oh, she has to deliver’.” I think for her as a cricketer today, she realizes, because she is one of the most professional cricketers in the world today, it is important for her to show the ‘example. In the recent series against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, I felt his stick had improved. In the last two seasons we felt that Harman was coming back (coming back) to form and yet not scoring enough points or there was a difference in approach or not finishing games, but what I saw at Sri Lanka was a beating Harmanpreet Kaur as he made her Harmanpreet Kaur, in terms of skills. And if that’s not pain then I’m sure with the kind of experience she has I’m sure that’ll push a cricketer to deliver the goods and that’ll also be the coolness that the team really needs. We have seen this in Sri Lanka in places. The weather in Sri Lanka and the weather in Birmingham are not going to be too different because right now there is a heat wave there (laughs). I’m sure as the team goes forward they would want to make a good impression,’ Anjum said on TOI Sportscast.
🚨 NEWS 🚨: The #TeamIndia (Senior Women) squad for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games has been announced. #B2022 |… https://t.co/6b0oTV2DfF
— BCCI Women (@BCCIWomen) 1657557561000
If there will be more pressure than a bilateral international series on cricketers at the CWG or less…
“There will be no pressure on any of the cricketers. I think every player will have personal expectations because he knows it’s a tournament, but it’s (also) the start of a season for every team, every nation. Some of them are already in England, for example South African women have already been there for 30-35 days. For each team, it’s like the start of the season and the final will be the World Cup (Women’s WC T20 in February 2023) in South Africa. So I don’t think they would want to take it (CWG) lightly. With the approach of a new tournament, the freshness will be at the rendezvous. It won’t be on the scale of an ICC event, but it will have its own presence. I think everyone would want to make the best impression in a tournament like this. There could be a hockey player who could come to watch your game or another athlete, who has rarely been there for the women’s game and at the same time you will be going to support some of the players from other disciplines because you are there as Indian contingent,” Anjum said on TOI Sportscast.
On India’s medal chances overall at GTC 2022 women’s cricket…
“When you go to a contest and the first game lined up is India v Australia, you get the impression that the organizers want two big nations to play each other (in the first game). Yes, Australia have had the best of India most times in any format, but there is always a competitive rivalry between India and Australia in any format. Also, Australia didn’t play much cricket before the CWG. They’ve traveled to Ireland but their games have been restricted and they’re coming off a winter so it’s been a restricted season for them so far. But the Indian team comes in after playing 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 give them that extra boost. And that may be the advantage the Indian team needs. You never know, an upset could happen and I say upset because Australia are the (Women’s) T20 World Champions…Harmanpreet Kaur will leave no stone unturned to ensure the team achieves the required success. She knows it was not easy for her to reach this position in the Indian team and she knows how highly regarded she is internationally as a cricketer so I’m sure she will get that extra zeal of the team,’ Anjum further said on TOI Sportscast.
On the Indian team that was selected for CWG 2022…
‘(The Indian T20 team for the CWG) is quite balanced. In the T20 format, Jemimah Rodrigues enters, Radha Yadav becomes a very important member. Richa Ghosh is absent, Simran Bahadur is absent. Poonam Yadav is not part of the 15. So, finally, these 18-19 are the same ones who traveled with the Indian team. I still feel that the Indian team would like to firm up their mid-range, because it is essential. You can’t just rely on your openings and the good moves of a Harmanpreet Kaur or a Deepti Sharma. The team will know that having a solid mid-range is essential. They have the luxury of playing more all-around players, so they have more bowling and batting options. But these batting options aren’t big hitters and that’s why they need a solid middle and lower order,’ Anjum added on TOI Sportscast.
On the still very open slots in the T20 women’s team with an eye on the World Cup next year…
“The middle order is absolutely open. The lower middle order is also open at this time. I’ve had discussions with stakeholders about how we can look at strengthening the middle order, what kind of actors are required. It’s not rocket science that they have to hit the ball a long distance to reach those points, but we don’t have that in our domestic cricket where someone in the middle order has impacted the game. It is always the higher order that has an impact. Watch this Indian team including reserves and see where they are battling for their national teams. They all beat between 1 and 4. So for the Indian team what is not so good is that they don’t have number 5, 6 or 7 who can come out and beat depending on the situation . Because they are good hitters and scored points, they deserve to be in the Indian team, but they are not playing in their (usual) positions. So I think the Indian team should consider consolidating the middle order as much as possible because in the coming years it will be a game-changer for them,’ Anjum added on TOI Sportscast.
You can listen to the full episode of YOU Sportscast with Anjum Chopra here