Women’s T20 World Cup: Shafali Verma will be a key player for us, I always like to back her, says Harmanpreet Kaur | Cricket News
This time, in South Africa, Harmanpreet will once again lead the Blue Women’s Team in the next season of the T20 Women’s World Cup. Team India is still waiting for their first title.
The most successful team in the history of the tournament is Australia, who has won it 5 times.
Since the start of the T20 Women’s World Cup in 2009, India has only reached the final once – in 2020 – under the Harmanpreet captaincy.
This time, India is placed alongside England, Ireland, Pakistan and the West Indies in Group B. The blue women’s team will kick off their World Cup campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan on February 12 at the Newlands Cricket Ground in Cape Town.
Harmanpreet Kaur (Photo TOI)
As the team prepares for the big tournament, TimesofIndia.com caught up with India captain Harmanpreet to talk about the team’s World Cup plans and potential title chances, key players, who among them Yastika Bhatia and Richa Ghosh as the favorite catcher, the young sensation and the winning U-19 T20 World Cup captain Shafali VermaSourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni’s influence on her and more…
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned as captain of India?
The number of responsibilities I received each day. This is the biggest thing and this keeps me motivated. Every day is special to me. Leading a team is a huge achievement for any cricketer. I am really grateful that I have had this opportunity to lead my country. The support I get from the Indian media, fans and brands like Puma, these push me to do well.
India won runner-up at 2020 ICC T20 Women’s World Cup when you are the captain. Once again, you will lead the team. WhatWhat is the plan?
Tri-series (in SA – India, SA and WI) helped us build the team ahead of the World Cup. Before the World Cup, we wanted to play a tournament like this (Tri Series) that could help us build the team. We just want to do well in the league. This is something very important to all of us. We must continue to do the right work that we discussed.
Image credit: T20 World Cup
India beat Australia in the group stage but lost in the final in the T20 WC 2020 edition. What happened at that time, what do you think?
These things happen. You can’t change anything that happened (in the final). We have learned a lot. We want to improve those areas. Everyone is contributing to the game and that’s what you expect from players. We’re not putting extra pressure on anyone but the team contribution is something we’ve discussed. Over the past few months we have seen a number of match winners on the team. That’s why we discussed the importance of everyone’s contribution. It’s good to see that every player is engaged and doing well. This is something that was missing in the past. Each player’s contribution is important and this is (currently) visible.
India is placed alongside England, Pakistan, Ireland and West Indies in Group B. How easy or difficult do you think India will get through the knockout round?
I don’t think any match will be easy for us. It’s not easy for us to qualify because all the teams really want to do well on the world stage. For us, it’s important to get the job right and keep focusing on certain areas. All the teams are doing very well today. We just need to focus.
Which team do you think will be the biggest threat to India at this World Cup?
All teams are important. They are doing very well. We cannot take any team lightly. We just want to go there and support our strengths rather than think about what others can do. If we can focus on what we can do, that will be key for us.
Image credit: T20 World Cup
Regarding the captaincy, which Indian cricketer (male or female) do you admire the most?
For me, Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni. The way they lead the team is something that I really watch. As Sourav led the team, Indian men’s cricket was growing. The way he (Sourav) changes the atmosphere (in the dressing room) and trusts and supports the players.
Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni, we know how smart he is on the pitch. Nowadays, if you watch his old match videos (Dhoni), you can still learn a lot from him. I learned a lot from Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni. I always try to pick up the little things that can help me and the team on the pitch. They have played a big role in my life, when we talk about the captaincy.
You have almost 3000 T20I runs and a whole century – which shot do you like best and why?
Each and every run is important to the player. The century is always important. They are always near your heart. I value running more. Whether you score 10, 50 or 100, when you win the game for your team, when your team wins, it makes you happier. To me, winning runs (runs that help the team win) have always been more important than individual runs.
Who will be your keeper at the World Cup – Yastika or Richa and why?
Both are really good goalkeepers and have done a great job for the country. It’s hard for me to pick one, but Richa has been doing very well in the Under-19 World Cup and Yastika is doing very well in domestic cricket. Whenever she (Yastika) gets a chance, she does a great job for the team. They both did a great job and it’s hard for me to pick one but whoever touches the best at the last moment and fits the combination, we’ll pick that girl.
Shafali has been in great form in the U19 World Cup. You must be happy to see that and must be hoping she will bring that form to the World Cup, to help India win the title…
Sure. She has been an important player for us. Whenever she performs, we are always in a better position. I just want her to continue to enjoy (she hit the ball) and continue to support herself. Because whenever she does these things, she will be in better shape. She should continue to enjoy (herself) and keep doing the right job. Her teammates are always there to support. She will be our mainstay and I always want to support her.
Shafali Verma (Twitter photo)
How easy or difficult is it to be an offensive hitter in women’s cricket?
Today cricket has completely changed. Everyone loves playing active cricket. It is not easy. It takes a lot of courage, a lot of concentration and a lot of concentration. Today, cricket requires attacking the ball. It’s good to see many hitters change their batting style. They just bring that positivity in their batting. This is something I really enjoy watching.
BCCI recently announced equal match ratio for male and female cricketers. Your comment…
This is BCCI’s biggest step forward. I am really grateful to them. This will motivate the players to perform well. This will also motivate and inspire other girls to pursue cricket as a career. This is a great initiative of BCCI.
You said recently that you are really looking forward to the female IPL – the first edition will be held this year. Do you think this tournament can revolutionize the women’s game in India, like it did for the men’s game?
Yeah sure. When the men’s IPL started, we saw tremendous progress in men’s cricket. The number of talents in men’s cricket has also increased. The same will happen in women’s cricket. We will see more talent enter women’s cricket with the help of this IPL for women. I really look forward to it.
One thing that IPL has done over the years for the men’s game is to give very talented cricketers the platform they need to showcase their skills, ultimately helping them play for India – people like Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya etc this route. Do you think the same is possible for the women’s game through the women’s IPL?
Before that, there was a bridge between domestic cricket and International cricket. When the domestic cricketers, after their good performance, have the opportunity to go to the international arena, it is time to integrate with the international players and conditions. It’s hard for them. After the IPL, we didn’t see that pressure on the players. They always have that confidence and they always look friendly. And the same will happen in women’s cricket.
After the women’s IPL starts, we will see that change in women’s cricket as well. The women’s IPL will also cut those differences in women’s cricket. When cricketers (females) will be in the same locker room and face them (international athletes) on the field in the women’s IPL and then face them in the international arena, that’s it. won’t make much difference to them and will ease the pressure as well.
If you could change one rule of international cricket, what would it be and why?
When a player hits a six out of the stadium, it counts as over six runs. Because it takes a lot of effort and strength to hit that big shot. I think hitters should run more than six times.
Harmanpreet Kaur (Photo TOI)
(Also) when we reach a boundary and run one, two, or three runs, those runs will count as well. Those runs can be added to that boundary (four). If we can add those runs (runs between frames) before the ball hits the line for the line, that would be interesting.
What does Harmanpreet like to do most when not playing cricket?
When I’m not playing cricket, I enjoy spending time with my family. Nowadays, we don’t have much time to spend with family. I spend time with my dogs. When I’m at home, I don’t go on vacation or go out, I just like to stay at home and spend a lot of time with my family. This is what I like best when not playing cricket.
Your association with Puma…
I’m really grateful. I never thought that one day I would be associated with Puma. I was sure that the hard work I had put in over the years would pay off one day. The day has come. It was a big day not only in women’s cricket but also in other sports. Nowadays, I see most girls, in sports, especially using Puma shoes and spikes. These are the things we always need in the field that Puma is providing. I feel really proud that I will be collaborating with Puma. The support, so far, I have received from them is huge. They have been very kind to me.