Indian women’s cricket team suffered a 13-run defeat at the hands of arch-rivals Pakistan in the ongoing Asia Cup in Sylhet on Friday (October 7).
Chasing 138 to win, the Women in Blue were bundled out for 124 in 19.4 overs. Surprisingly, skipper Harmanpreet Kaur came out to bat at No. 7 during the chase as India’s new-look middle order faltered under pressure.
Speaking after the game, India head coach Ramesh Powar said the team management's main aim was to test the temperament of the younger lot in a pressure situation.
"It's not a setback... We were not thinking on those lines. We were facing an issue, which needed to be addressed," Powar said at the post-match media interaction.
The head coach revealed India wanted to test their new look middle-order, having already registered three wins in a row.
"It was a thing that was planned earlier that after three games we wanted to try some young ones who can take up that role. We wanted to expose (Dayalan) Hemalatha, Pooja (Vastrakar), Richa (Ghosh) and Radha (Yadav) who are young. The purpose was to send them up and make them feel the pressure."
"They need to go through these pressure situations because Smriti (Mandhana), Jemimah (Rodrigues) and Harmanpreet have been doing it for a long time. We wanted to fill this gap before the World Cup. We wanted to do it in the Asia Cup as we do not have many games ahead of the World Cup -- just five games against Australia," the former India off-spinner stated.
India will open their Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 campaign against Pakistan in Cape Town on February 12.
The Harmanpreet Kaur-led side has been slotted in Group 2 along with England, West Indies, Pakistan and qualifiers Ireland for the showpiece event, scheduled to be played from February 10 to February 26 in South Africa.
India’s second match will also be played in Cape Town against the West Indies on February 15 before they take on England and Ireland on February 18 and 20 in Gqeberha.
Powar said they want to build a team for all conditions and the Pakistan game was a perfect opportunity to test their youngsters.
"We have been playing for a long time now and most (of the players) in the team have played enough cricket to understand the importance of an India-Pakistan game. They also understand where we stand in the league phase and why we are doing this."
"Six league games allow us to do that, we would not have tried this if teams were in groups. We want to build our team for all conditions, all pressure situations. Obviously, we want to win the game."
Asked if there was any added pressure on them, he said: "Not really, otherwise we would not have tried a different batting order.
"We (team management) thought that we need to get over this phase by (for a change) not trying the regular match winners. We have full confidence in them so we tried this (rookies). Otherwise, we would not have done this."
(With PTI inputs)