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India needs to know how to win big moments: WV Raman Indian Women’s Cricket Team Head Coach

First thing is you just let them flower and don’t tamper much. Second, you need to try and make the most of the talent without putting any real pressure. I can tell you something very honestly. With the talent we have in this team and if they are groomed well, we will have a world number one side in three years’ time.

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Last Updated: Feb 18, 2020, 11.19 PM IST
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The truth is when I was observing from the outside in 2018, I was also feeling exactly the same. I was like how can they play well like this when things aren’t the best in the change room.
By Boria Majumdar

In 2018, India’s Women’s T20 World Cup campaign had ended in a heartbreak with a much-talked about semi-final defeat against England. But much has changed since then. Under WV Raman, India look poised to mount a strong campaign at the 2020 edition of the T20 World Cup, starting on Friday. In a series of conversations over the last one month with Boria Majumdar, Raman has consistently spoken about the talent the team has and believes they know what to do when put under pressure. Having said that, he also feels it will now all boil down to what the girls do on the day. Excerpts:

All set for the big tournament?
Yes. I am happy with the preparations and it gives me pleasure to say everyone is fit and hungry to get going. All are available for selection and I hope it remains that way right through the tournament.

Starting the campaign against Australia — how do you look at it?
Frankly, it does not matter who you play at what stage in the tournament. If you have to play well and do well in a tournament like the World Cup, you need to be consistent against every team. And we have seen in the tri-series that Australia are beatable and even in the final we were in a position to close out the game. That’s the big learning from the series and I look forward to the girls making use of this learning in key situations in the World Cup. It was very good to play two of the strongest teams for the girls now know where they stand and what all they need to improve on.

The way India were placed in the final, they were very close to win it. Andthen they lost wickets in a cluster. Is that what you need to work on? The art to close out crunch games.
Without doubt these are key learnings. You need to know how to win big moments in a game and that’s what it is all about. There is little doubt the talent is there. We know what the girls are capable of. They know what they are capable of. What they need to do is play to potential when it matters the most. I also think contributions from the lower-middle order (is important), for those extra 15-20 runs will decide the World Cup. These extra runs hold the key in T20 cricket where things change very quickly like it did in the final.

You have a very young side with you — players like Shafali Verma, who is just a teenager. How do you handle a prodigious talent like her?
First thing is you just let them flower and don’t tamper much. Second, you need to try and make the most of the talent without putting any real pressure. I can tell you something very honestly. With the talent we have in this team and if they are groomed well, we will have a world number one side in three years’ time. It is still work in progress and if you see things have already started to show. We chased down 170-plus against Australia in the tri-series and the start we got was simply brilliant. That’s what a talent like Shafali can do and we need to be careful while getting the best out of her.

Both Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur have done well in big tournaments and key matches. They will again hold the key?
That’s the case with every team, isn’t it. There will be some key performers who will have to take the responsibility. That’s how the nature of the game is. Smriti has been the most effective player we have ever had at the top of the order and Harman will of course hold the key in the middle while also lead the team by example. They are both mature cricketers and know what they need to do. I expect them both to do well in the World Cup.

In 2018, the team was clearly divided and things turned ugly immediately after the tournament. Is everything looking good to you going into the World Cup this time?
The truth is when I was observing from the outside in 2018, I was also feeling exactly the same. I was like how can they play well like this when things aren’t the best in the change room.

And when the opportunity presented itself and seeing the talent the team has, I decided to take up the role and try and do what is needed. Everyone now knows they are united for one simple goal — play well and win games for India. Nothing else matters and there is nothing personal in this team. If we have to be in that final on 8th March and lift the trophy, everything else has to be made secondary. The girls know that. Each and every person associated with the team knows that and my goal is to keep things exactly as they are and put our best foot forward.


(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of www.economictimes.com.)

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