India’s women’s cricket team will be able to fine-tune their ODI World Cup preparations in a six-game limited series against hosts New Zealand, starting with the T20 only here on Wednesday.
The unique T20 is scheduled before the five ODIs starting on February 12. Although the team will be looking to win, they will also approach the 20+ game to get used to the conditions with the bigger goal for the World Cup in mind. .
To reduce the COVID-19 threat, all the games have been moved to picturesque Queenstown. The Indian team arrived here after completing a 10-day quarantine in Christchurch.
ODI captain Mithali Raj, who will not play T20, said on Tuesday that the six games will be used to discover the top players who will take part in the ICC event from March to April.
“It’s a different format. The team will be wanting to win the match. Having said that, this T20 will also give a clear idea on the pitches, how the players deal with an open field,” Raj said in a virtual media interaction referring to the windy conditions.
T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur, who ended her batting slump with a successful Women’s Big Bash League, will look to lead from the front on Wednesday.
Although workload management has gained importance in times of COVID, Mithali made it clear that it will be a secondary issue for them in all six games as it is important for the fast bowlers to get used to the conditions.
“It will take at least two or three games for them to get used to the conditions,” he said.
“We are here to use this series as a preparation for the World Cup because it is the best way to know the grounds and the composition that we will have next month. We want to put in our best level of cricket so that the team gets a lot of confidence when they enter the World Cup.
“We play to win, but I hope to give the main players some playing time. It is important that they find their rhythm before the World Cup,” added Mithali.
New Zealand captain Sophie Devine also made a point of testing some players in the series against India. Both teams sail in the same boat when it comes to finalizing their combinations.
On the eve of the game, Devine called India the “sleeping giants” of women’s cricket and said playing them would be ideal preparation for the ICC showpiece.
“It’s interesting (how to approach the series). It’s about getting the balance right, results are important, but building momentum in the World Cup is going to be extremely important.
“We also know that this is an opportunity to test people in different positions. Whether the results go our way or not, we want to play the style we want to play. We want to be attacking and play to our strengths.” The series will be played without spectators due to the threat of COVID-19.
India: Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia, Deepti Sharma, Richa Ghosh, Sneh Rana, Pooja Vastrakar, Meghna Singh, Renuka Singh, Taniya Bhatia, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Ekta Bisht, Simran Bahadur, Sabbhineni Meghana.
New Zealand: Sophie Devine (captain), Amy Satterthwaite (vc), Suzie Bates, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Brooke Halliday, Hayley Jensen, Fran Jonas, Jess Kerr, Melie Kerr, Frankie Mackay, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin, Hannah Rowe, Lea Tahuhu .