Women’s T20 Challenge 2020 is all set to take place in Sharjah from November 4-9, among three teams — Trailblazers, Supernovas, and Velocity. Before the competition starts, Velocity captain Mithali Raj said on Tuesday that players have to follow the new norm of staying in a bio-secure bubble.

Notably, Raj will lead Velocity whereas Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur are the captains of Trailblazers and Supernovas respectively. Indian cricket team will play after seven long months. They last played in the ICC T20 World Cup in March before global pandemic novel COVID-19 brought the entire world into a standstill.

“I think quarantine period is tough and it is challenging because you are confined to your rooms, there is no interaction with your teammates, but bio-bubble does give us space where we can interact with teammates and support staff, overall it is something new and whatever is new, it is challenging. As players, you have to accept the new norm of staying in a bio-bubble. We do have time slots for training sessions, it does help somedays to keep you fit,” said Mithali Raj during a virtual pre-match press conference.

Women’s T20 Challenge has given a few talented youngsters and one of them is Shafali Verma. Ever since her big-hitting abilities came in the limelight, it was no looking back for her. And, now she has become a key player in the Indian set up within a year. This year too there are a few youngsters who will try to give their best.

While speaking about youngsters in her team, Mithali Raj said: “I think, of course, Shafali is talented, we do have a couple of young talents in our side, Manali (Dakshini), she is a fast bowler and we have another young player from U-19 player in our squad. This platform gives them an exposure to interact with the overseas players to see the national players how they set themselves before playing a tournament, how they prepare themselves. Overall, a sort of professional approach from that professional athletes get to this platform is what these young girls can learn through this Jio Women’s T20 Challenge.”

ALSO READ: “Intensity Should Be There, Don’t Try To Push Too Hard”: Mithali Raj To Teammates Prior To Women’s T20 Challenge

However, team Velocity will play to back-to-back games within less than 24 hours which sometimes become tiring for the players due to lack of rest. But, the captain thinks it is important for them to get the game time so that they could prepare for the next tournament as well.

“If you give it more space, it weighs you down. You just take it one game at a time. Yes, it is going to be challenging as the recovery time is less. Next day is 2 pm (UAE) game. It’s important that we get this games going to get game time for the coming series, we are here to play the best standard of cricket, it is about enjoying the platform, everybody would want to be a part of this tournament. As a player, as a team, we are looking forward to these matches,” added the highest-run-getter in ODI.

On the other hand, Indian Premier League 2020 group league games witnessed plenty of scores in Sharjah at the beginning. But, as the tournament progressed, the total comes down as the pitches have become slow and making big total becomes tough. However, Mithali believes experienced players will adjust with it soon.

“During the league, the start of the IPL was quite big, getting 200 runs in Sharjah Stadium. To coming to see, the total is coming around 120-130, that definitely reflects that the wicket is slowing down and there is a lot of dew factor in the last game which I saw between RCB and SRH. They did speak about the dew factor and how it difficult for the bowlers to grip.

But again, it is all an experience. Seasoned players will find a way out, but inexperienced players – for them, it is an exposure, how to deal with these variables of factors during the match and how they can take help from the senior players and probably prepare themselves for these matches,” shared the Velocity captain, Mithali Raj.

However, it was a tough time for the sportspersons as the global pandemic novel COVID-19 hit the entire world. All the sporting events have either been postponed or cancelled owing to that and nearly after 6 months, the things have been slowly becoming better.

While talking about the preparation amid this crunch time and as a team how they have been doing, Mithali said, “As a team, we did have a week of a training session before the start of the tournament. We got the time as a team to interact and get our session going. Individually, as soon as the lockdown was lifted, I did spend a lot of time in my training sessions in terms of fitness as well as batting skill and I am definitely looking forward to the match because then I will be able to know whatever a lil bit of changes I have done in terms of my batting, whether it helps me or not in the future One Day format.”

ALSO READ: Mansi Joshi To Miss Women’s T20 Challenge, Meghna Singh Replaces Her In Velocity Squad

From 2017-2020, India have reached the finals twice – ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 and ICC T20 World Cup 2020. They reached the semi-final in 2018 World T20 too. But they failed to win the title. While speaking about India’s performance in the tournament, Mithali Raj shared her views on this.

Mithali said: “It was nice to watch the Indian team to play the finals of this year’s T20 World Cup in front of a full packed stadium at MCG, a little disappointed that we could not get past the final hurdle, but in this format for a long time, we thought that we are not good enough but we have broken this barrier since 2016-17, even the 2018 world cup, the team has been doing well and it was good to see the team playing the final of this year’s T20 World Cup.”

“It has done a lot of good for women’s cricket in India because to qualify for the final of any world cup is huge. A lot of people follow the final and it’s a platform that every team or player would want to be part of so that they can promote the sport globally. And, I think the Indian team is a serious contender in every format,” she concluded.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced the squads and schedule for the Women’s T20 Challenge on October 11. The campaign will begin with the defending champions Supernovas taking on Velocity on November 4. All the games will start from 7:30 PM IST barring the second match between Velocity and Trailblazers. It will start at 3:30 IST in the afternoon.

Velocity Squad:

Mithali Raj (C), Shafali Verma, Veda Krishnamurthy, Sushma Verma, Ekta Bisht, Mansi Joshi, Shikha Pandey, Devika Vaidya, Sushree Dibyadarshini, Manali Dakshini, Leigh Kasperek, Danielle Wyatt, Sune Luus, Jahanara Alam, Anagha Murali

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