Ahead of Shafali Verma’s potential ODI debut, Indian skipper Mithali Raj has admitted that she wants the young opener to enjoy her style of playing without worrying too much about things. The Indian skipper also added that healthy competition in the team is always good, for the future of the team.
After making her Test debut earlier in the Bristol Test against England, there is a high chance that the 17-year-old opener from Rohtak will make her debut in the ODI series against the same opposition. In the Test against England, Shafali not only gave the Indian team a good start along with Smriti Mandhana but she also ensured that her attacking style caught England off their guard.
Ahead of the three-match ODI series against England, Indian skipper and veteran batter Mithali Raj admitted that she wants the young opener to enjoy her style of playing if she makes her debut in the 50-over format. She also insisted that in case the team loses early wickets, the experienced middle-order will take care of the rebuilding process.
“That’s how she plays, her strength and style of batting. There will be times when she gives us a headstart. She’s a young kid, she’ll also learn to build an innings. As a captain, I want her to enjoy her style of playing. If we lose early wickets, we as middle order are there to rebuild, or if we get a good start, take the momentum forward. We have the batting depth to do that,” Mithali admitted in the press conference, reported News 18.
“The application has been good from the youngsters, especially girls who are touring for the first time. Leagues around the world have given different exposure to the players. It has added more dimension to the game, their preparation etc. That gives more knowledge of how to go about your game. It helps you develop confidence when you face a situation like that which you’re not very experienced. That’s how these girls stood up and delivered."
Mithali also stated that the team is looking in a positive direction going forward into the World Cup year. She also lavishly praised her side for putting up an outstanding fight, out of their skin in the drawn Test against England.
“We look really positive going into the World Cup. The way the girls performed to save the Test has added confidence to the unit. England is a very good side, one of the best in the world. They will have the advantage playing at home. But we have players who have played leagues here in England, we’ll gather information from them and that will help us do well,” she added.
After Jemimah Rodrigues failed early on in the ODI series, the management replaced the youngster with Priya Punia, who came good in the remainder of the ODI series. However, with Shafali in the squad, there is a high possibility that the aggressive opener would replace her at the top, causing plenty of meltdown at No.3.
“I think I’ve scored a lot of runs at No. 3. I started as an opener and then came to 3 and 4. When you play a lot at 3, you be very flexible. I have been very flexible, have played in different batting orders. I have played even at No. 8 or 9. At this stage, I’m comfortable whether it’s No. 3 or 4. It revolves around the situation, and that’s always been my approach," Mithali clarified.
For the series against England, India have named a high-profile side, with the inclusion of some fresh faces, in the form of Indrani Roy and Shafali. Alongside that, the squad has also seen the return of Shikha Pandey, Ekta Bisht, Taniya Bhatia and Sneh Rana, who impressed all in the Test against England.
“Healthy competition is always good in the team. Having said that, we pick the team based on the combination. Girls also understand that. Accordingly, we see our batting order or batting depth. Allrounders coming in… we do have few options, we’ll select based on the team composition.”