Indian women's cricket team captain Harmanpreet Kaur on Friday said a long rope will be given to the players selected for the ongoing series against England as well as the three-match affair against Australia at home, keeping in mind next year's T20 World Cup. The Indian women have a busy month ahead as they will play two more T20Is and a one-off Test against England, followed by a one-off Test, three ODIs and as many T20Is against Australia. (Streaming | Cricket News)
While acknowledging that spin bowling is India's biggest strength, Harmanpreet Kaur said the team will look to give more opportunities to new players in the upcoming matches.
India have picked three new spinners in Shreyanka Patil, Saika Ishaque and Mannat Kashyap for the ongoing three-match T20I series against England.
"The team which we picked for this T20I is the one we want to build for the upcoming World Cup," Harmanpreet told media after India's training session here ahead of the second match of the series against England.
While both Patil and Ishaque made their debuts in the first T20I played on Wednesday which India lost by 38 runs, Kashyap featured in the three-match 'A' series before getting her maiden call-up to the national side.
"Saika and Shreyanka (Patil) have done really well in the last game. They are quite confident. After the game we did sit with them and discuss what best they can do in the upcoming game," Harmanpreet said.
However, it was a forgettable outing for both the young bowlers as Patil returned with figures of 2/44 while Ishaque took 1/38 in their respective four overs each.
"For them, they just need opportunities and so many opportunities are there now. They just need to go out there and execute themselves in the best way," the skipper added.
Harmanpreet was clear that improving the team's fielding remains top priority after India dropped a couple of crucial catches and also made other errors in the field.
"Fielding is something we have been talking (about) for so many years and fielding is something as a team we want to improve," she said. But she also counted the positives.
"When we got together (on) the first day, everyone spoke about fielding area but the best part was in the last game, we could see everyone dived. They were throwing themselves (around).
"That is something, as a captain and as a player, I want our fielding side to be the best."
Harmanpreet backed India to continue relying on their spinners in these matches even though the returns were largely disappointing.
India used four spinners to bowl 12 overs but they managed only three wickets while giving away more than 120 runs.
"In our domestic set-up, so many spin bowlers are doing really well. It is something which has always been our strength," Harmanpreet said.
"Among pacers, Renuka (Singh) is doing really well, (from the) other end Pooja (Vastrakar) is helping her. At the same time, Titas (Sadhu) was not well.
"Secondly, I feel spinners are more confident and they've always done really well whenever they've got opportunities. That's why we went with the spin attack."
Harmanpreet wants exciting young fast bowler Sadhu also in the mix of things but her availability is yet to be determined.
"I also want her (Sadhu) to play. She wasn't well (but) she bowled in the nets. Hopefully, she'll be fine and the physios will give (their) report," she said.
Harmanpreet said she wants her side to keep growing as a team despite faltering in the final stages of global events.
"I just want us to grow as a team. I want this team to grow and in a way that everyone say that this is the best team," she said.
"For me winning a World Cup is a dream and I am just working towards that and that is the only reason I requested BCCI to get a young team. These games are very important. England are not going to give us anything easily, so we are putting ourselves under pressure.
"For me, team performance and winning a World Cup for the country is very important, and my aim is towards that."
With the auction for the second Women's Premier League scheduled for Saturday, just a few hours before India take on England, Harmanpreet the action a few kilometres away from the Wankhede Stadium here will not distract her side.
"Almost all the girls are already in some team or the other, so I don't think the auction is going to be a distraction for us tomorrow," she said. In the current squad, 19-year-old Kashyap is the only player in the WPL auction.