In less than nine months, Bangladesh will host the T20 World Cup 2024, and a revamped Indian team will be eager to start winning against a dangerous England team. Team India will play their first series after a long time on Wednesday at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai under the new head coach, Amol Muzumdar. The three-match T20I series against England will get underway.
India has played in very little of the Women’s Premier League in the last eight months, despite its March inception. After winning a T20I series against Bangladesh in July, they were tied in an ODI series that resulted in a two-match suspension for captain Harmanpreet Kaur. In September, they won the gold medal at the Asian Games.
A revamped Indian lineup will be eager to gain some traction against a formidable England team because the next T20 World Cup will take place in Bangladesh in nine months. After the T20I series, there will be three ODIs and T20s each, as well as one Test before India hosts Australia in a Test.
India had interim head coaches Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Nooshin Al Khadeer after Ramesh Powar’s stint ended in October of last year. Now that he is in charge, Amol Muzumdar, a former captain of Mumbai, must maintain stability and lead the team through two challenging assignments in less than a month.
In domestic cricket, the 49-year-old was among the most prolific run scorers. As Mumbai’s captain and coach, he led the team to the 2021–22 Ranji Trophy final and enjoyed considerable success. Troy Cooley, a former Australian first-class cricket player, will be the bowling coach for the double series, while Munish Bali will oversee fielding.
Speaking during a press conference on Tuesday, Amol Muzumdar expressed his satisfaction at starting his tenure in his hometown. But he hasn’t had much opportunity to train with the team in England.
“It’s been great so far, about 15 days; we had a small camp at the National Cricket Academy and even played a four-day game,” he said and further pointed, “It’s been fantastic to be with the team and I’m really looking forward to the season. We’re building towards next year’s T20 World Cup and every game has importance. The ones against England and Australia will count a lot.”
Despite many outstanding performances over the last few years, India has failed to win an ICC championship. They even lost the final at the Commonwealth Games in 2022.
In women’s cricket, Muzumdar thinks “we’re on the cusp of hitting it big,” and the Indian team will continue to concentrate on developing consistency and reaching their best at major tournaments.
“There is no compromise on fielding and fitness” – Amol Muzumdar
He said, “Fielding and fitness are of highest priority. There is no compromise on fielding and fitness. There will be lot of camps that will be happening post this series and getting into the next season. There will be a lot of cricket played either at the NCA or somewhere or the other. More exposure, fitness and fielding will be my top priority. The fringe players – the new generation coming through – will get equal opportunities. These are the prime things that we will take forward after this series.”
“Goals have already been set. We’ve already had fitness tests done at the NCA, and we’ll follow them rigorously going forward. There will be three such tests each season. Fearless cricket is something I always advocate, so we will be playing that brand.”
“We need to play a certain brand of cricket, which we have been known for,” Amol Muzumdar said and further noted, “Shafali and Jemimah are both a very important cogs in the wheel. I would like them to continue what they have been doing. Fearless cricket is something I have always advocated. We would be playing that brand of cricket.”
The team is led by Harmanpreet and includes several new members. The Women’s Caribbean Premier League’s top wicket-taker, off-spinning all-rounder Shreyanka Patil, claimed five wickets in the recently concluded three-match series between India A and England A, a victory for the latter. Patil made an impression in the WPL.
While pacer Titas Sadhu and left-arm spinner Mannat Kashyap were instrumental in the success of the ICC U-19 Women’s T20 World Cup this year, left-arm spinner Saika Ishaque was one of the Mumbai Indians’ star players as they stormed to the WPL victory. Sadhu achieved an incredible score of 3/6 in the Asian Games championship.
“The young generation is coming through. The India A series was well fought. The performances have been rewarded by the selectors,” said Amol Muzumdar. “All the young players are looking forward to getting opportunities and I’m sure they’ll deliver. They have a terrific mindset and the energy and intensity that we’ll need on the ground.”
India is playing a Twenty20 International at the Wankhede for the first time, and the opening match against England will only be the second women’s T20I at the stadium. Though he warned against becoming complacent, Muzumdar, who spent the majority of his domestic cricket career playing for Mumbai, was sentimental when discussing the location.
“Coming back to Wankhede, I am starting a new role at the home ground. I have played all my cricket since childhood here. [It is] great to start the series here at Wankhede. We’re familiar with the conditions but cannot be complacent as every game has its own challenges.”
“We have decided to leave the statistics and whatever has happened behind us. We are looking forward to a fresh start. The numbers are there to be seen, but these girls and the team are looking forward to the season ahead. We are not going to go back in history — of course it is important — but at the same time, it is also important to look forward to the season ahead,” he further remarked.
For a women’s bilateral series in India, this will be the first to use the Decision Review System (DRS). In T20Is, each side will get two reviews; in one-off Tests, each team will get three reviews every inning.
At the 2017 ODI World Cup, DRS was first implemented in women’s cricket; nevertheless, it performed inconsistently in bilateral matches. The review mechanism was implemented for the first time in a T20 competition at the Women’s T20 World Cup in 2018. The host boards are responsible for having DRS broadcast facilities for bilateral series.
“We have already had a discussion on this. We do have a DRS committee in place. It is an important aspect of the game. It could be a game-changer or a series-changer. Every small little aspect will be taken care of. We already have a committee in place to deal with that,” Amol Muzumdar concluded.