Suresh Raina is well aware of Indian women’s team progress in the ICC Women’s World Cup in England and is following the team’s campaign match by match.
In an interview to Hindustan Times from Netherlands, he said: “The Indian team is on a roll and all credit goes to Mithali Raj — how she is able to extract performance from the youngsters apart from doing well herself. The win against Pakistan was special and I am cheering for them to go all the way and win the World Cup.”
Raina praised 19-year old promising youngster Deepti Sharma who smashed 78 runs against Sri Lanka. “I am so proud of Deepti, the way she batted with maturity alongside Mithali, showing her intent. The wicket was on the slower side. Keeping this in mind, Deepti pushed for singles and couples to build up her innings at the start and later she went for the shots. Her shot selection was impeccable. After my training here, I watched the highlights.” he said.
Raina had met Deepti in New Delhi after she was involved in a world record opening partnership of 320 runs with Poonam Raut against Ireland in South Africa.
“Deepti is going to rock again with the bat. Wait for more brilliant knocks from her. I am also surprised at the turn she is getting with her off-spinners in England,” added Raina.
Deepti’s involvement in cricket began from a very early age when she was eight years old as she used to give her brother company to the local stadium for his practice sessions.
“Her interest grew when she saw me move in the cricket circles in Agra. I was a fast bowler and everybody called me ‘Bala’ as I bowled and looked like L Balaji. She was awestruck with the reputation I earned. She also started to train with me. And within a few years she was playing district and state matches,” her brother Sumit said.
Sumit also played for Uttar Pradesh at the junior level, “When she made her India debut in 2014, I decided to quit my job and focus on her cricket. That is when I opened a cricket academy near our house.”
India will face South Africa in their next match on Saturday in Leicester. “If the Indian women’s team wins the World Cup a new phase will begin. I wish all the luck to the ladies. Chak de India,” Raina concluded.