SWEATING IT out at the National Cricket Academy at Bangalore for the last 10 days, the Indian women got a well-deserved Sunday break before their opening World T20 campaign against Bangladesh on Tuesday. Though, this long-awaited break wasn’t spent lazing in their respective rooms.
Sunday was the day when most had spa commitments, hair-dresser appointments or both. With all their games to be telecast live — this is the first time ICC has decided to broadcast 13 of the women’s game — the Indian girls are keen to make a good impression. According to captain Mithali Raj, they want to play well, and look good too.
“Playing the World T20 at home during which our matches will be covered live is a huge boost for us. The girls are conscious about how they will look on television and are also paying attention on how they conduct themselves and present themselves. The main focus is cricket because if we do well it will be a big boost for the game in India. But we also want to look good on and off the field,” skipper Mithali Raj says.
Coach Purnima Rau lets out a hearty laugh when asked about her girls’ Sunday outing. “I am feeling like the mother of the bride,” says Rau, who as a player wasn’t used to such camera-attention.
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Rau says that she has spent hours perfecting her squad’s cricketing skills as the scrutiny of multi-camera telecast can be brutal. The girls, meanwhile, have been talking about the close-ups frames, especially when they are not under helmet, either fielding or celebrating. Rau, in a lighter vein adds, “The girls spend 20 per cent of the time in front of the mirror.”
Televised games also means, post and pre-game interviews. This is another aspect of televised games that excites, as well traumatises, the girls.
While the senior players Mithali and Jhulan Goswami are more comfortable about being interviewed on air, the others are also warming up to the idea.
The girls, including the junior most Deepthi Sharma, 18, are encouraged to speak during team meetings and asked to contribute while the team analyses the strength and weaknesses of opponents after a game or during sessions with the video analysts. The team meetings also follow the more interactive question and answer format, which give a feel of being in a ‘live’ interview.
The makeover of the current team is not restricted to just personality or looks but the brand of cricket they play is also being tweaked to suit the format. During the seven-day camp at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore, there has also been a focus on playing what is broadly termed as T20 shots. “The Indian women’s team is known for being technically correct and playing in the ‘V’ and it has been our strength in Test and ODI cricket. But in T20 cricket we need to adapt more by getting under the ball and hitting it, sweeping and slog sweeping or by being smart when required. I believe we can score an additional 20 to 30 runs by being innovative,” coach Rau says.
The new-look innovative Team India has been on the roll lately. The reason India is seen as an outside favourite for this WorldT20 is because of their recent away T20 series win against defending champions Australia and the whitewash of Sri Lanka at home. In Australia, the Indians girls impressed everyone with their technically perfect batting skills, skilled bowling and sharp fielding. At home too, they girls want to create a great first impression.