A plush hotel in the heart of Birmingham has been the ‘home’ for India’s women’s cricket team ever since it arrived in the city. While the team has missed out on living in the main Commonwealth Games village, the players and the support staff have ensured that they at least catch up with athletes from other disciplines and pick their brains.
After qualifying for the semifinals and setting up a date with England, the Women in Blue went to the Games village for an interaction with the members of the Indian men’s hockey team – captain Manpreet Singh and PR Sreejesh – on Thursday.
While Jemimah Rodrigues, who has played junior-level hockey for Maharashtra, put out pictures of the meeting on social media, other members of the cricket team learnt a thing or two from the hockey stars. “It’s a little bit of a regret that we could have stayed in the Village, but unfortunately, we are not staying there. But we had an interaction with Sreejesh and Manpreet and we shared a few thought processes in terms of how they handle the pressure and how to approach big games,” head coach Ramesh Powar said.
“Sreejesh was very active, he interacted with the girls nicely. Manpreet was a bit busy, but Sreejesh gave us a lot of time. He made the girls dance and that was the biggest takeaway for me, it was a good interaction overall…”
In the Village, the team also watched the long jump events where Murali Sreeshankar won a silver. “That gave us inspiration that the boy was trying so hard (to win a medal). Our job is to go out there and just try as hard as he did. We all were glued to the TV screen and watched it live. Him winning a silver medal gave us goosebumps,” Powar said.
After defeating Pakistan and Barbados in the group league matches and booking a semifinal berth against England on Saturday, Powar admits that the team is gearing up for the challenge. In the 2017 World Cup final, India lost to England, crashing its hopes of clinching the title, while the Indian coach does not consider the CWG semifinal as a revenge match, Powar believes that the team will put its ‘best foot forward’.
“At the end of the day, it is a game of cricket. It is not life and death. We will put our best foot forward and give the people of India a reason to smile,” the head coach added, making it clear that all the players are now expressing themselves and communicating better in fulfilling their roles.
Against Barbados, Jemimah Rodrigues, who was promoted to number three, played a vital 56-run knock, which set the tone for India’s win. Powar admits that they are evolving as a team. “We are an evolving team and processes and plans will change. We are trying to get the best out of them…”
“We felt Jemi is ready for this as she has been playing in England for a while. We thought we will take a chance on her,” he added.
History beckons Harmanpreet Kaur’s team and they don’t want to miss the bus.
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