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Monday, Aug 19, 2019

ICC Women’s WT20: Australia favourites, but Harmanpreet Kaur capable of something special - Lisa Sthalekar

ICC Women’s WT20: Former Australian all-rounder spoke with Hindustan Times and gave an insight into the women’s game and how the game has grown over the years.

cricket Updated: Nov 20, 2018 19:16 IST
Manish K Pathak
Manish K Pathak
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Harmanpreet Kaur of India bats during the ICC Women's World T20 2018 match between New Zealand and India at Guyana National Stadium on November 9, 2018 in Providence, Guyana)
Harmanpreet Kaur of India bats during the ICC Women's World T20 2018 match between New Zealand and India at Guyana National Stadium on November 9, 2018 in Providence, Guyana)(IDI via Getty Images)

The Indian eves have been a dominant force in the World T20 so far and have ticked almost all the boxes. Led by the flamboyant Harmanpreet Kaur, the side oozes confidence, and as such, look in great nick to go all the way and clinch the trophy.

However, they will face England in the semi-finals, a side which stole victory from their clutches in the World Cup last year in London. England look a solid unit but after the win against Australia, the confidence in the Indian camp should be high.

Hindustan Times caught up with former Australian all-rounder and current commentator Lisa Sthalekar to speak about the women’s game, the journey so far and the road ahead.

How impressed are you with the Indian team in the World Cup so far?

I have been really impressed with the Indian team, given that there performance from the beginning of the year when they had a tri-series against Australia and England they didn’t make the final, they seem a settled line-up with everyone knowing their roles. It helps that Harmanpreet started the World T20 in style with a 100 and a big win against New Zealand which has meant that the group has fed off this and played with plenty of confidence to qualify for the first semi-final since 2010.

The transformation of Harmanpreet Kaur, what according to you has changed?

I remember playing against Harmanpreet in England in 2011. Her ability to strike the ball cleanly was evident. She has all the shots in the book, but what I have seen over time, is a better understanding of when she pulls out those shots. She takes her time at the start of the innings cause she knows once she is in, she can easily catch up the balls vs runs ratio.

ALSO READ: What Harmanpreet Kaur is doing for women’s cricket is remarkable - Sanjay Manjrekar

What are the significant changes in women’s cricket?

There has been a dynamic shift in the women’s game, I believe with majority of International players now being contracted by their National board and the inception of the ICC Women’s Championships means that teams are playing more and more cricket and dedicating time to their skills. That extra time in preparation has seen stronger, faster athletes who have certainly taken the women’s game to another level.

Who are the favourites now?

My favourites so far is the Australian side, they are not reliant on just one or two players which seems to be the case for all the other sides. Plus their depth in both departments means that they should have an answer for whatever situation arises.

However it being a T20 anything can happen and a single player from the opposition can take it away from the Australians, just like Harmanpreet did last World Cup in the semi-finals when she scored 171 runs.

What has been the impact of WBBL and KSL on T20I cricket?

The WBBL and KSL has allowed International players a chance to play more competitive cricket all year round, plus from a development point of view, different coaches and ideas have strengthened the development of individual players. For domestic players in Australia and England, it has meant that they are exposed to play against the best players in the world and that is why we have seen over the last few years both countries excel in bringing new players into the set up and perform straight away in National colours.

ALSO READ: Kohli turns cheerleader as Women’s team enters WT20 semis, says ‘bring home the World Cup!’

One player you are keeping a close eye on?

One player that I am keeping an eye out for is Jemimah Rodrigues from India. I had heard a lot about her but hadn’t necessarily seen the best from her. However in this World T20 she has been so good to watch with the bat but also in the field. She moves quickly to ball and has a strong arm which has affected run outs throughout this tournament.

What is the road ahead for Women’s cricket, is T20 the format to take the game to the masses and capture the market?

Certainly the T20 is seen as the vehicle to take the game to all corners of the globe and to appeal to the younger audience. Though I feel that it is a great way to bring people who are new into the game and I would like to think that it is a great stepping stone to take the fans through a journey that they then fall in love with ODI and then finally the ultimate Test cricket.

First Published: Nov 20, 2018 17:18 IST

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