India ODI captain Mithali Raj has resumed her training after a three-month break owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. She is back in the nets at St. John’s Coaching Foundation in Hyderabad under the guidance of her coach R.S.R. Murthy, her best friend and former international cricketer Nooshin Al Khadeer and K. John Manoj, secretary of the Foundation.
“I struggled a lot during lockdown even though it helped me to work on my fitness, keeping me stronger by working on small things which otherwise I couldn’t have spent enough time during a busy season,” Mithali Raj said to Sportstar.
“There is some freshness to the game too after coming back from the long break though the buzz around is missing in this Academy as there is no one around,” she added. “But, I am trying to keep an eye on the skills aspect during practice though I am not training every day but may be twice a week.”
Global pandemic novel coronavirus has brought the world into a standstill. All the sports events across the globe have either been cancelled or postponed. People were asked to stay at home and the Govt. imposed lockdown in the country as well. However, it’s been lifted slowly in some places. This pandemic outbreak, as well as lockdown, have affected many including players who need to practice outside to keep themselves ready for the games.
“When I resumed training, I thought my bat would be somewhere and the feet somewhere else. But, surprisingly, my body kept up the momentum and I was surprised with the way I was batting in the nets. Perhaps, it had something to do with the way I kept myself fit. There is lot of clarity to plan my training sessions,” Mithali Raj explained.
“I don’t think I am struggling in terms of my strength and ability. May be, on endurance front, I might be lagging a bit behind. But, I can always work on that,” shared the India captain. “So, when I reflect on resuming training, I never felt that I was coming back after such a long lay-off. Feeling 70 per cent okay which is better than to be about 20 per cent ready for the game.”
However, the next 50-over World Cup is scheduled to take place in New Zealand early next year. India have qualified for the mega event as well and Mithali Raj will play her sixth ODI World Cup which itself is a record.
“Hoping the scheduled England series is on this September if there is the desired improvement on the COVID-19 front. So, I think this is the best way to get back into the groove ahead of a likely preparatory camp too,” said Mithali. “Yes, the next February’s ODI World Cup in New Zealand should be the biggest event for all of us (women cricketers). Thankfully, it is the safest place right now and sincerely looking forward to it.”
Mithali is known for building innings and taking time to set herself in the middle. or a long time, she had to take the team to the finish line single-handedly. However, the situation has changed now and she can now bat more freely as there are quite a few other batters who are capable of scoring runs with the responsibility.
“Definitely, it is not like as it was in 2017 World Cup when I had to shoulder the complete responsibility,” she said. “Definitely, the BCCI is giving the kind of fillip needed to women’s cricket by organising tours for the India-A and the Emerging Players series as it is doing in men’s cricket. There are lot more opportunities now.”
However, she thinks every cricketer has their own journey where they learn crucial lessons while growing up. While talking about goals apart from winning the World Cup trophy, she said that she wants to score as heavily as possible now and then she will take a call according to the situation.
“When I started my career, there were not many distractions like TV or the social media. You cannot avoid it right now. My only advice to a young talent is to strike the right balance and stay focused on the game. This can be the biggest challenge,” the India captain said.
On the other hand, women’s IPL has affected a lot owing to the pandemic outbreak which was gaining momentum after the last T20 World Cup in Australia earlier this year.
“It may take some more time now to take a definite shape. In all probability, we will be forced to play in front of empty o near-empty stands. But, I am sure the ICC will ensure that the women’s cricket matches will be telecast live to keep the audience engaged to the sport,” Mithali Raj concluded.