Lucknow: Indian women's ODI captain Mithali Raj on Saturday said lack of game time won't be an issue for the players and they are ready to hit top gear against South Africa in the limited over series as the team begins its World Cup preparation.
India will play five ODIs, starting with the first match on Sunday, followed by three T20Is in the home series against South Africa to kick off their calendar which was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the South Africans come into the series fresh from their 3-0 and 2-1 win over Pakistan in the ODI and T20I home series last month, the Indians last played on 8 March, 2020 when they lost to Australia in the T20 World Cup final.
"Clearly they had a game time, but we are playing after a gap. Having said that we definitely have put in the efforts, trained ourselves, have these short camps, four days of sessions here," Mithali said during a virtual news conference on the eve of the first ODI.
"It doesn't look like we are rusty or anything ... I think the girls clearly are quite excited to get on the field and start putting our best performances because it's time that we start our campaign for the World Cup, and start playing some cricket."
The Neetu David-led selection committee sprung a few surprises by including a lot of rookies, while excluding some big names in pacer Shikha Pandey and wicketkeeper Taniya Bhatia who were left out from both the ODIs and T20Is squads.
Indian women's batting sensation Shafali Verma too has not been included in the ODI team but the skipper said the explosive opener was very much in their radar.
"She is definitely in the scheme of things. She is in the radar. I think we need to have a little bit of patience and you see her very soon," Mithali said.
The ODI skipper said the series is very important to set their combination right for the World cup slated in New Zealand around this time next year.
"This series is very important in that context. We will try to see the composition of the team but at the same time also see that the team as a unit start to get that momentum right," Mithali said.
"...the series is very important for two reasons, one is to give the young players the right platform, to give them opportunities in the home condition.
"And at the same time, it's important to see that the core players get enough game time to get out there and start to develop that rhythm, and as a unit we come together. And take it from there," she added.
The 38-year-old was last seen in action in the away series against West Indies in November 2019.
Mithali said she will look to carry on her good batting form which had helped India beat West Indies 2-1.
"It's just like how I prepare myself before any series, it's been no different. In terms of gametime 'yes', we've not really played any matches as such. But in terms of training or preparation at home or back in the academy, I've prepared myself ...," she said.
"A lot has gone into the mental setup because clearly we are coming back from a long gap, it means that you have to be strong enough to put your best foot forward.
"All these years we've trained like that and I am definitely looking forward to getting more runs, because the last series against West Indies in 2019 I was in rhythm and I would like to continue from there."
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