Young (but not) dumb and broke: Raman confident of ‘fearless’ India in T20 World Cup

Harmanpreet Kaur in action for India. ©ICC

“Young cubs know no fear!”

India have gone ahead with a bold call of including two teenagers in Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh in their squad for the T20 World Cup 2020. WV Raman, India’s coach, said that they would look to play an attacking and fearless brand of cricket in the tournament.

“In today’s era, age on either side has just become a number. It’s about the talent they have and what they can bring to the table that matters,” Raman said ahead of the young Indian team’s departure to Australia on Thursday (January 23).

“This is a format where people need to be positive instead of wondering what will happen if we get out. Along those lines we’ll know what people with fresh minds and a lot of positivity and no fear at all can do. I think they (the youngsters) will also complement the more experienced cricketers like Smriti (Mandhana), Harman (Harmanpreet Kaur) and Veda (Krishnamurthy).”

“My message to them is play their natural game without any pressure,” said Harmanpreet Kaur, the captain, on her message to the youngsters. “There are some players who do well when playing without pressure, while there are some who do well under pressure. So, it is important for me to understand how they play in what situation.”

While players from England, West Indies, Sri Lanka and Pakistan participated in the fifth season of the Women’s Big Bash League, India’s cricketers stayed away and featured in the domestic tournaments in India. When asked whether this would be disadvantageous for India in the multi-nation tournament, Raman dismissed those thoughts while Kaur said those who featured in the earlier seasons would share their experiences.

“Three of our players have played WBBL and have got experience of playing there,” the Indian T20I skipper said. “We do share our experiences with others in the side. Since this is an ICC tournament, the wickets there will be good and could be high-scoring.”

“We have seen that playing franchise cricket is one thing and playing in an international tournament for your country is another thing altogether,” Raman reckoned. “They might be familiar with the conditions, but this is a different platform, different tournament, the pressure element is different. I think all these things put together will negate any advantage they might seemingly have.”

India plays a tri-series featuring Australia and England ahead of the T20 World Cup. Irrespective of the result, India’s head coach said the tournament will give the players a chance to adapt to the conditions. “It’ll give us hard tough games that’ll give us a lot of pointers in terms of what needs to be done and where we stand. Even if we come worse off in the series, that’s also good because the only way then is up.”

In the World T20 in 2018, India’s journey came to an end due to a defeat against England in the semi-final. Before that, the English side stopped them short of winning the title in the Women’s World Cup in 2017. Does it mean that India is now obsessed with winning a title, having come within touching distance in the last two global tournaments?

“I wouldn’t use the word obsessed,” retorted the coach, who has scored over 1000 international runs in 38 matches. “Yes we are all excited and are keen to do well. In terms of the T20 tournament, there is no saying what is likely to happen. We are all looking to put our best foot forward and confident of having a very good campaign.”

The captain-coach duo also stressed on the importance of spinners – who have often provided them breakthroughs – to the side and were confident of doing well once they land in Australia. It may be a young team, in terms of age, but in terms of performance-ability and experience, they might be able to challenge the very best in business.

India begin their sojourn in Australia with a T20I clash against England on January 31.