Winning World Cup would be revolution for Indian women cricket: Mithali Raj

Indian women's cricket team captain Mithali Raj and coach Tushar Arothe during a pre-departure media conference as the team leaves for the ICC Women's World Cup

India women cricket team skipper Mithali Raj on Saturday exuded confidence that her team will put up a good show in the upcoming ICC Women's World Cup which begins on June 24 in England, insisting that it would be a revolution if the Women in Blue manage to win the pinnacle tournament.

"We definitely want to win the World Cup. It would be a revolution kind of thing for the Indian's women's cricket team. And it gives impetus to young women to take up the sport," Raj told a press conference.

"It would serve as a great platform to showcase the kind of cricket we have been playing in the past two years," she added.

The Indian captain further stated that she has asked her teammates to take one match at a time as the format of this year's tournament is different.

"Our first target would be to definitely get into the semis," she said.

India have only made one change to the 15-member squad that played in the ODI quadrangular in South Africa, with Smriti Mandhana replacing Devika Vaidya.

They retained the same group of players otherwise, with two wicketkeepers in Sushma Verma and Nuzhat Parween, who made her ODI debut against Ireland during the quadrangular.

The 34-year-old insisted that the senior players in the team would have to help the youngsters deal with the pressure and the expectations of playing in the World Cup.

"There are few seniors in the team who are aware of the World Cup, they are aware of the expectations and the pressure that one faces during the event. But the youngsters are someone that we as seniors can always get them under us and we can be there for them during the pressure situation," she said.

The team is coming off a successful tour to South Africa, where they won the quadrangular series and thus would go into the World Cup with loads of confidence in their baggage.

During the quadrangular series, multiple records were broken. Jhulan Goswami became the leading wicket-taker in Women's ODIs. En route to this achievement, she went past Australian Cathryn Fitzpatrick record of 180 wickets.

Sharma recorded the highest score by an Indian when she notched up 188 against Ireland. She also hit 27 fours in that innings which is another world record.

Deepti Sharma and Punam Raut created history by becoming the first pair to share a 300-run stand in Women's ODIs.

In the league match against Ireland, the duo added 320 runs for the first wicket in 45.3 overs. It was the first time that the women's ODIs had witnessed a 300 or more runs stand.

The Indian women's team recorded 16 successive victories between February 2016 and May 2017. However, the loss against the Proteas didn't allow them from equalling Australia's record of 17 consecutive ODI wins.

"We are happy with the preparations. We had a good tour of South Africa. It made a lot of difference to the girls, especially for young players like Deepti and comeback player like Poonam to be among runs. It sorted a lot of issues for us as a captain and as a coach because India has always struggled with the opening pair," she said.

"In the last two series, we have seen the openers doing their bit and giving us the right kind of start. Beating South Africa was exceptional that too in their home and I am hopeful that the team would continue that form in the World Cup," she added.

India will begin their World Cup campaign on June 24, when they take on hosts England in Derby. The eight teams will play each other once, with the top four going through to the semi-finals. Lord's will host the final on July 23.

India squad for Women's World Cup: Mithali Raj (capt), Harmanpreet Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy, Mona Meshram, Poonam Raut, Deepti Sharma, Jhulan Goswami, Shikha Pandey, Ekta Bisht, Sushma Verma (wk), Mansi Joshi, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Nuzhat Parween (wk), Smriti Mandhana.


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