The girls are excited to get on the field: Mithali Raj

With India set to return to international cricket after almost a year, with the upcoming five-match ODI series against South Africa in Lucknow, Mithali Raj has uttered similar words as that of her deputy, stating that the team "isn't rusty". The Indian skipper, who has retired from T20Is, hasn't played any international cricket since November 2019 but is confident that the team will be ready for the challenge posed by Sune Luus and Co, given the three training sessions they have had since their arrival at the venue.

"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," she said in a press conference on Saturday (March 6).

"The girls have been training in their respective places before coming here. During the lockdown, we have all kept in touch and kept up with our routines via Zoom and other apps. We are communicating with the staff. It's no different in that sense. A lot has gone in the mental set-up because it has been a long gap."

The only competitive cricket India has had since the pandemic broke out is a four-match Women's T20 Challenge, of which a player has got a maximum of three opportunities. On the other hand, South Africa resumed their international cricket in January this year, playing 3 ODIs and 3 T20Is against Pakistan at home, winning five of the six encounters.

"Clearly they've had 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,"

Raj, the highest run-getter in women's ODIs, is 112 run short of reaching the 7000-run mark in the 50-over format, and would be looking to breach the mark in the upcoming series. She is also hoping that pitch would enable scores around the 240-250-run mark, but feels the team would only be able to fully assess what to expect after the first game.

"I am training the same way I do before any international series. But I am looking forward to getting more runs. I was in rhythm in the last series in 2019. Hope to do the same here," she said. "Clearly, coming back into the one-dayers after 15 months, we first look forward to developing a rhythm, a momentum. If it's a good batting track, we definitely look forward to around 240-250. It's something we can start aiming at. But if we get a good start may be, you know.

"But again, it all depends on how we take the first game, the wicket. But as on today, the girls seem to be very confident. We've had some very good sessions. So, clearly, I'm looking at a very confident unit to take the field tomorrow," she concluded.


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