We've played three best teams this year, it has given us good preparation for World Cup: Mithali Raj

We’ve played three best teams this year, it has given us good preparation for World Cup: Mithali Raj

In 2021, India hosted South Africa for five ODIs before facing both England and Australia in a three-match series away from home.

Mithali Raj speaking
Mithali Raj speaking. (Photo by Ashley Allen – ECB/ECB via Getty Images)

Mithali Raj feels that India have got the best possible preparation ahead of the 2022 Women’s World Cup, scheduled to be played in March-April, even though the team will not play more than a single series before the mega event.

In 2021, India hosted South Africa for five ODIs before facing both England and Australia in a three-match series away from home. Despite losing all three series, the team broke No. 1 ranked Australia’s miraculous 26-match winning streak by defeating them in the third and final ODI of the series, which they lost 1-2. They will now play World Cup hosts New Zealand for five ODIs, their only series before the World Cup.

“We have played three best teams since March and it has given us good preparation,” Raj said after a partnership between KFC and Indian Deaf Cricket Association in Delhi on Wednesday. “Players have played domestic cricket and also in the Women’s Big Bash so they are getting game time which is the most important thing.

“We are getting to play in New Zealand before World Cup which is also good,” she added.

India, who were under the spotlight for their slow and cautious approach in the 50-overs format, managed to give a tough fight to Australia in their den. “When you play against a strong team in its backyard you try to give your best. Though we lost the series [against Australia], the matches were very close. We scored 270 and chased 270 odd, if we can do that consistently we will be among the best sides in world cricket,” she said.

‘We bat as a unit so you can’t pinpoint one area’ – Mithali Raj on middle-order woes

The ODI skipper highlighted that the team’s middle-order needs to improve, but added that the team needs to fire in unison instead of focusing on any particular area.

“We bat as a unit so you can’t pinpoint one area,” she said. “There are times when the top order failed and the others performed. As a unit, if we look to post a good total then it will help. If we focus on one area like middle order then it becomes too much of a burden for that particular slot.”

Raj admitted that not many expected India to succeed during the 2017 World Cup, where the team finished runners-up, but she was aware that a lot has changed in the last four years.

“There were not enough expectations back then. Now in 2021 players have got experience and got a lot of exposure with the T20 leagues. Overall we have young players but they have got enough exposure. It is just of matter of gelling well as a team.”

“Every match will be different there. The quicker we read our opponents the better it will be for us,” she added.