Women's cricket: Confident India run into the mighty Aussies | Crickit
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Women's cricket: Confident India run into the mighty Aussies

By, Mumbai
Dec 20, 2023 08:18 PM IST

Harmanpreet's team will take great confidence from the win against England but Australia are always tough to beat

Not since 1995 has the Indian women’s cricket team competed in back-to-back Test matches. After a record win against England last week, Harmanpreet Kaur and Co will enter unchartered territory as they face Australia in a one-off Test that begins at the Wankhede Stadium here on Thursday. In fact, so rare are consecutive Tests in women’s cricket that the last time any team featured in them was in 2003 (women’s Ashes series).

Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur with teammates after winning the one-off Test cricket match against England.(PTI)
Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur with teammates after winning the one-off Test cricket match against England.(PTI)

Having lost the preceding T20I series, the 347-run Test victory against England would’ve been morale-boosting for India. They have a new coaching staff and a number of fresh faces in their squad, and the challenge is only going to get tougher when they take on the all-conquering Aussies.

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India will take great confidence from the England win. The batting clicked, the bowlers fired in unison, and the fielding was inspired. It was as complete a performance as head coach Amol Muzumdar would’ve hoped for.

But preparing for something you have no experience of can be challenging. In a press conference on Wednesday, skipper Harmanpreet admitted that the team management has had to be careful in monitoring the workload of certain players.

“This is the most difficult and important question,” said the 34-year-old. “When you play back-to-back Tests, the most crucial thing is your recovery and how fresh you are feeling. We have tried to take care of the workload of players like Deepti (Sharma) and Pooja (Vastrakar), who batted and bowled a lot in the last Test and didn’t get any rest. We wanted them to train just enough to feel ready for this next game. We’ve spoken the most about the fact that it’ll be best for us to feel fresh mentally and physically. We’ve tried our best to recover. At this time, the most important thing is the excitement we have. Since we hardly get to play Test matches, the excitement is really helping us recover.”

Be it the 2020 T20 World Cup or the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Australia have had the edge over India in big finals. And when it comes to Test cricket, India have never gotten the better of the Aussies. The two teams have played 10 Tests against each other, with Australia winning four and the rest ending in draws. The last time they clashed was in 2021 at Carrara, and the last time India hosted Australia in a Test was at the Wankhede back in 1984.

“As we all know, Australia are such a good team and everyone wants to beat them on any given day.” said Harmanpreet.

“They have more all-rounders, who contribute consistently in both batting and bowling. The other thing is that they aren’t dependent on just one person to win them matches. In the Australian team, since a long time, everyone has been contributing and that’s the only reason why I feel they’re different compared to other teams. There are many things we can learn from them. One can learn from their opponents and not just their own team. These are the things why I feel they’re the best.”

Australia's 'keeper-batter Alyssa Healy, who missed the Women’s Big Bash League due to a finger injury that required 50 stitches, said she’s expecting a strong fight from a confident Indian team. With Meg Lanning having retired, the 33-year-old is now the full-time captain of the side.

“Australia’s series versus India are always hotly-contested, it doesn’t matter what format it is,” said Healy. “It’s always really, really competitive. They’re two of the best sides in the world going head-to-head. India, obviously, in their home conditions are really, really hard to beat. We’ve had some success here in the past, don’t get me wrong, but you can’t underestimate at any point the sheer amount of talent in their dressing room. We’ve seen a over the last couple of years that we’ve managed to get the edge over them a little bit in key moments and tournaments. But it’s not too far down the path that that’s going to swing and this Indian team is going to be incredibly dominant for a long period of time. So, it’s really exciting and we want to test our skills against the best. What India possess in that dressing room is some real talent and skill.

“I’ve seen Troy Cooley (bowling coach) roaming around in the Indian kit, and to have someone with that knowledge and experience talking to their fast bowlers is a little bit daunting as a batting group… knowing the information they’re being given. So, I’m really excited for this series. It seems like the Indian team is in a really great place and for us, it’s almost the start of a new sort of generation or legacy, whatever you want to call it, and it’s a great opportunity to come to India for a month and test ourselves against a really good side.”

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