Team India are ready to take on England in the one-off Test match in Bristol starting from June 16. Prior to that, captain Mithali Raj welcomed the addition of the Test match to the bilateral series and she hopes this could even be the start of a World Test Championship in future as well.
India had last played a Test match in 2014, against South Africa in Mysore. In the same year, they had played against England and won both the Tests also.
“I feel that this Test match and the one in Australia is a beginning of having a three format bilateral series. It opens channels for another format in a bilateral series, it increases the standard of women’s cricket. All cricketers want to play the longer format, it’s good to have it,” Mithali Raj said in a press conference before the much-anticipated Test match.
“Maybe in the coming years, it might also lead to a World Test Championship. You never know, this is just the beginning,” she further added.
While they will play the longer format after a long time, there are several new faces in the team and Mithali revealed that the players practised in white uniform so that they don’t feel weird while playing the match.
“We did brief them (youngsters) about how this format is played. You don’t want to burden the debutants with expectations, the team will support them on the field. They should just enjoy the format. One thing is that there were a few sessions we have in whites so that the girls don’t overwhelm walking in whites into the ground for the first time. We tried getting the feel to the net session so that it doesn’t feel alien to the girls,” further added Mithali Raj.
She continued: “He (Ramesh Powar, the coach) got seniors to speak to the juniors who have a lesser experience. Such communication helps the team prepare for the Test. From the last Test, it’s been 7 years. It has been all white-ball cricket, and all players have faced the white ball. It comes down to the mindset. We’ve tried to get in as many red-ball sessions as we can in the last week. At the end of the day, it’s the mindset that matters. It would be wrong to say it won’t be challenging.”
While this is their first tour in England post-2017 ICC Cricket World Cup where India lost to the host by 9 runs, the captain hoped that the players will be able to adjust to the situations on the ground as well.
“We can do our best preparation in the nets, but at the ground, it’s down to the situation. Players will respond accordingly. It’s just that we’re trying to get their mindset tuned to the red ball. What are the variations the bowlers can do, what mindset the batters should have. These are the preparations that we have put in,” again shared the stalwart.
Although it’s been 2 decades for Mithali Raj in international cricket, as she made her debut way back in 1999, this will be only her 11th Test appearance as well.
“I’ve played lesser Tests than ODIs/T20s. I’d have liked to have more Tests, but nevertheless, getting these Tests… it goes down to preparation. The preparation has been similar. Talking to other cricketers who have played the format has helped me prepare for this Test match,” added the leading run-getter in ODI.
Meanwhile, Team India is on the verge of a unique milestone. Having won the last three Tests, two against England and one against South Africa, another win will see them equal the record of Australia for the most consecutive Test match victories as well. However, the captain is not giving too much attention to it as well.
“I am not looking at any record. It never crossed any of our minds. We just want to go out and take it session by session. We want to get in with a good confident mind out there,” claimed Mithali Raj.
However, the way women’s cricket is growing since the last 50-over in World Cup, she is definitely happy to see this and also stressed the importance of telecasting the matches as well.
“In terms of marketing the sport, I think it’s great to have a Test live on TV. Now with pandemic, a lot of people will be watching the game on TV. For us players, it’s very important. In 2014, there wasn’t much (interest) but the team didn’t care about that. The players gave their best standard, if it’s covered live, nothing like it. Because that’s how the sport will grow,” concluded Mithali Raj.