Indian captain Mithali Raj has insisted that she wants to use World Cup Qualifier 2017 as preparation for the Women’s World Cup, even though the conditions in Colombo will be much different to England and Wales.
Raj said that the World Cup Qualifier is obviously a very important tournament because it will help teams to earn a place in the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 as well as the ICC Women’s Championship.
“As for us, it is a time to prepare for bigger matches since it comes in the run up to the ICC Women’s World Cup. Though the conditions in Sri Lanka will be much different to England and Wales, which will host the mega event, we will still be taking the opportunity to put things in place,” she said.
“We are preparing for the slower wickets in Sri Lanka, which are likely to assist spinners. We will probably have to look for totals of about 200 in Colombo, and if we can consistently do that, we should be happy. If we get scores in that range, we can hope to score 225 to 240 in England during the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017, where the seamers are likely to be more in action.”
“Our objective is to try out a few combinations and settle down. We want to get into the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 as a settled batting unit because then we will have the confidence to win matches,” she added.
The Indian skipper insisted that they have played all the Asian countries and the surprise probably can come from Zimbabwe, thus they have to be cautious and ensure that they are not upset.
“We have also not played Ireland in recent times and will not be experimenting against these teams,” she said. “As for South Africa, they have done well in Australia and Bangladesh and we have lost a one-day series to them at home. They are the ones likely to give us competition and we have to be prepared for that.”
Raj also insisted that the focus of the team, which are just coming out of a domestic Twenty20 tournament, is to make a smooth transition to the 50-over format.
“We have had a 10-day camp and since it is imperative that we play some practice games, we have also played some matches amongst ourselves as well as against some boys’ teams,” she said.
The 34-year-old said that women’s cricket has grown in standard over the years and there has been a huge improvement to what it was in 2013.
“There has been enormous change not only in the standard of the game but also in the way players are perceived,” she said.
“One reason for the standards going up is the opportunities that the ICC Women’s Championship has provided to players. In its last edition, eight top teams got to play three ODIs against each other.”
“While earlier teams like England, Australia and New Zealand were the only ones playing regularly, now we have others like South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka also getting exposure. Women’s cricket still has a long way to go if it has to stand on its own, but I feel that is bound to happen in the years to come,” she added.
While all qualifiers for the Super Sixes stage at the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2017 will gain ODI status for the next four years, the top four will qualify for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 in England and Wales from June 24 to July 23, as well as the next ICC Women’s Championship.