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Home pitch awaits India women cricketers at Bristol

Sports Lounge Staff

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Thirty-odd Indian players due to take part in the Women's T20 Challenge in the UAE next month have been asked to assemble in Mumbai by October 13 but quarantine requirements have put a question mark over their preparedness for the three-team competition. The BCCI has not announced the teams yet but Indian players, both international and uncapped domestic, have been informed about their selection. After arriving in Mumbai from various parts of the country on October 18, the players will quarantine for more than a week and they will be tested multiple times in that period. The players are likely to depart for UAE on October 22, after which they will go undergo a six-day quarantine like all players competing in the men's IPL. They will enter the event's bio-bubble after three negative RT-PCR tests. The tournament will run from November 4 to 9. "The players have been informed and a WhatsApp group has been created. A few U-19 players have also been picked. It will give them a lot of exposure," a BCCI official told PTI on Friday. Veterans Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, who have retired from international T20s, will feature again in the tournament.In all likelihood, all four matches will be played in Sharjah, the venue for 12 IPL games which also happens to be the smallest ground among the three IPL venues. After undergoing quarantine Mumbai and UAE, the players will have less than a week to acclimatise to the conditions, having not played the game for more than six months. The IPL teams arrived in UAE a month in advance. "It will be a challenge for sure. We have been training individually but the intensity of a team environment cannot be matched. We will quarantine in Mumbai for more than a week and then another week in Dubai. There will be three to four days before the event starts. Obviously, it is not going to be easy to perform," said a player on conditions of anonymity. The Indian team last played in March. Amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic, there were question marks over the event until BCCI president Sourav Ganguly assured that it would be taking place during the IPL play-offs. The BCCI is zeroing in on the foreign players for the competition but they will be mostly from the neighbouring Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and a few from England and West Indies, who haven't landed WBBL contracts.

Bristol: The pitch for the one-off Test between India women and England women commencing on Wednesday could turn out to be a flat deck and may assist spinners later on since it was used for a T20 Blast game only five days back.

Though the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has apologised for scheduling the June 16-19 Test on a pitch that hosted a domestic T20 game between Gloucestershire and Sussex, it may have no answer for the behaviour of the pitch that may play like an Indian surface and help Mithali Raj & Co.

“A pitch that is prepared for a T20 game is flat, devoid of any grass and has plenty of runs in it. They may have watered it (Bristol pitch) and used heavy roller on it to keep some grass which means it may assist seamers early on. But it could still return to being flat very soon in the match,” said experienced Indian curator Samandar Singh Chauhan, who in the past has prepared pitches on which Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag scored their ODI double centuries.

“Normally, when we have matches in such short duration at one venue, we use different pitches. But in this case, the ECB is using the same pitch,” he said.

“If they haven’t watered the pitch, then it will break and help spin bowlers since it was a T20 pitch which normally lacks grass,” added Samandar.

Former England women’s team player and journalist Isabelle Westbury had, on Tuesday, asked Indian team captain Mithali Raj in a media interaction if she felt the used pitch would assist spin bowlers and therefore help India’s cause.

Mithali refused to get into the debate and only said that the Indian team will play on whatever pitch is dished out to it.

“We are here to play a match. Whatever strip we get, we try and get a result out of it. That is our thought process… it is important that we put down our strategies accordingly,” said Mithali.

England women’s team captain Heather Knight was criticial unlike Mithali.

“I guess it is obviously not ideal. We would much prefer to be on a fresh one but it is what it is. And we do not know how it is going to play necessarily,” said Heather in a media interaction on Tuesday.
“We found out last week. We obviously tried to get it changed but it was a little bit too late for that to happen. It is unfortunate but it still could play very well,” Heather had added.

The ECB, however, apologised for the scheduling after criticism from Heather and another England player Alexandra Hartley.

“We are all disappointed that the wicket for the Test match against India will have had 37 overs played on it. We know that England Women deserve a fresh wicket and we are sorry that we were unable to provide that in this instance,” said the ECB in a statement.

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