Mumbai: Indian captain Mithali Raj Sunday urged his team-mates to "work on partnerships" as they looked to claim an unassailable lead in the three-match ODI series against England.
"We have to work on partnerships. We had just 2, between the openers and mine with Taniya (Bhatia). We need to work on playing the middle overs," said Mithali on the eve of the second one-dayer here.
Openers Jemimah Rodrigues, who top scored with 48, and Smriti Mandhana added 69 runs for the first wicket and after a mini collapse, the innings was resurrected by a 54-run stand between Mithali (44) and wicket keeper Tania (25) for the sixth wicket.
India, who made 202, defended the modest score with some crafty spin bowling by left-arm Ekta Bisht (4 for 25) to emerge victorious by 66 runs and take a 1-0 lead.
"When we can go and score 200 with just 2 partnerships, if another couple of batters can score runs, that would be a good score on this wicket," Mithali pointed out.
Praising Jemimah, Mithali felt that the 18-year-old Mumbai youngster has forged a good combination with the settled Smriti Mandhana.
"She has gradually improved since her debut in South Africa. So much exposure at such a young age will only help her progress more and take responsibility of giving a good start. India have, for long, struggled to have a good opening pair. Now I can see good starts since the New Zealand (tour)," she remarked.
She also hailed the bowling of Shikha Pandey after an indifferent run of form.
"She's been with team for long. Every player goes through a lean patch. As a senior and captain it's my duty to give more confidence, giving more opportunities.
"Since the New Zealand tour you've seen how she has taken up the responsibility of the first spell along with Jhulan Goswami. Jhulan, being around, also helps, as she shares her experience. With a senior around, juniors develop under their wings," she explained.
Mithali backs women's IPL after World Cup performance
Mithali Raj Sunday came out in support of starting a women's version of the cash-rich Indian Premier League after having spoken against it earlier.
"I felt that (way) before the ODI World Cup. At that point of time the players' identity as individual players was not as big as the ODI World Cup where people started to understand what is Indian women's cricket and who all play for the team," said Mithali.
She was speaking on the eve of the second One-day International against world champions England.
"Now since a year or two people have gone beyond 2-3 players. They recognise other players in the squad and now is the right time to get in IPL because T20 is also a format that ICC is looking to promote in women's cricket," added Mithali.
In the women's 50-over World Cup, the Indian team made the final where they lost to England, generating a huge amount of interest in the country.
Mithali felt that there will be cascading effect on their game's structure with the introduction of women's IPL.
She spoke about the A tour concept to develop the women's game.
"We also have India A tour. I'm sure there is one in the near future. If we have more of that and we can give opportunity to the second string, not just playing versus the visiting teams, but also tours abroad to Australia or New Zealand. That exposure will help them immensely," she remarked.
"As far as IPL is concerned, if that can be a double-header, like how we had the T20Is in New Zealand, that will definitely garner more people to come and watch us play, and obviously televising it and marketing it will get a lot of people to follow it," she added.
The India women's ODI skipper also saw the plans to conduct U-19 and U-21 World Cups for women as an advantage.
"It will be important because every country is looking forward to getting more girls to play the sport. And if you have another World Cup, of say Under-19 or Under-21, it gives an opportunity for young girls to compete at that level because there's something to look forward to.
"Someone who's playing U-19, they have to straightaway aim for the senior level. That's a long shot. Very few are able to make it. For the rest who don't make it, at least they have another shot at playing or representing their country at the World Cup (at the juniors level)
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