Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) [India], March 6 (ANI): India women's ODI skipper Mithali Raj on Saturday said that she would like to give every youngster in the side a game in the upcoming five-match ODI series against South Africa for a perfect build-up ahead of the Women's World Cup in 2022.
The women's side would return to international cricket action after almost one year as they will lock horns in the five-match ODI series against South Africa, beginning Sunday. After the five ODIs come to an end, India and South Africa will play a three-match T20I series.
"Definitely, yes because it's a five-match ODI series and we have some young players in the side. As the captain, I would like to give them opportunities to show their talent and yes we are looking at giving the youngsters an opportunity in this five-match ODI series," said Mithali while replying to an ANI query during a virtual press conference on Saturday.
"This series is very important, we will see the composition of the team. Everybody is coming after a long gap, this series is very important as we have young players and it is the right platform to give them opportunities. It is also about ensuring that the core players get enough game time to develop that rhythm and take it from there," she added.
When asked about Shafali Verma's omission from the ODI squad, Mithali replied: "She definitely is in the scheme of things, she is on the radar. We need to have a little bit of patience and we will see her very soon."
Talking about practice sessions ahead of this series, Mithali said: "As a professional athlete, it's important that we keep ourselves fit and find ways to be in training. We have had four good days of training sessions, we also had a session on the central wicket. The girls have been training in their respective places before joining the team as the domestic season is underway.
"South Africa played against Pakistan before coming to India but then we are playing after a gap. Having said that, we have put in the efforts to train ourselves, we had a short camp and we have had four sessions here. It does not look like that we are rusty, girls are excited about putting in a good performance," she added.
When asked about her preparation ahead of the South Africa series, Mithali said: "It's been like how I prepare myself before any series, it is no different. In terms of game time, we have not played any matches as such but in terms of training and preparation, I have prepared myself how I do before any series. This is no different, a lot has gone into the methods as players are coming after a long gap. I am definitely looking forward to getting more runs, the last series against West Indies in 2019, I was in a rhythm and I would like to continue that."
The Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association (UPCA) on Friday had announced that 10 per cent of the capacity of Ekana Stadium will be opened for spectators for the upcoming India women's series against South Africa.
Commenting on fans coming in, Mithali said: "It is always good to play in the stadiums where there are people who turn up to watch the match. You have supporters supporting the team. I am happy to see that there is a price on the tickets for people to come over. This probably is one way where women's cricket can sort of develop the revenue coming in. If we do well, the interest will develop, I am looking forward to people to turn up in the stadium and support the national women cricketers."
India Women's ODI squad: Mithali Raj (captain), Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Punam Raut, Priya Punia, Yastika Bhatia, Harmanpreet Kaur (vice-captain), D. Hemalatha, Deepti Sharma, Sushma Verma (wicket-keeper), Swetha Verma (wicket-keeper), Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami, Mansi Joshi, Poonam Yadav, C. Prathyusha, Monica Patel. (ANI)