Gujarat Giants will lock horns with table-toppers Mumbai Indians in their fifth match of the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL) at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday, March 14.
Having faced each other in the season opener, the Giants will be hoping to crank it up as the second half of the season begins for them.
Speaking ahead of the match, Giants’ head coach Rachael Haynes was positive that the team is performing well and she hopes better results going forward.
“The first match was really a big occasion for our group and perhaps for a lot of young players. They might have been overwhelmed in the beginning but they have learned from that experience and accumulation from all that will help make them better players. We have switched our focus quite well after our first game. We have seen throughout the tournament that every team will go through ups and lows, which is the nature of T20 cricket,” Haynes said.
“The good news is that we are going back to the CCI Stadium where we have won. The players will take all that into confidence and play their best game. The reality is that our future is still in our hands. We have to be focused and if we can win our next games, we can also be part of the final too. I have learned heaps and it’s been really nice for me as the head coach. I see the game now in a different perspective. As the head coach, you have to keep the players motivated. The group that I have got here, are extremely positive and it has made my job enjoyable and a bit relaxed,” she added.
Meanwhile, team mentor and former India captain Mithali Raj talked about the team’s performance so far in the tournament.
She said, “Honestly, winning one game in the first leg is clearly not the way we wanted to go. But the tournament is still wide open and we have a chance to get into the top three. We look to put our best game going forward. Understanding that we have some injuries in the camp, we will try to make the best use of the resources we have with the games remaining.”
She also shed light on how this league can be a platform to nurture the young cricketers.
She opined, “We have a lot of talented U-19 players in our squad like Ashwani, Dayalan and others. It is just a matter of working on their mental strength, giving them a platform and I am sure that in a couple of seasons, they will be ready.”
Former India off-spinner Nooshin Al Khadeer, who has been named the bowling coach of the Giants for the inaugural WPL season, talked about how the camp is dealing with the players being injured and how the bowling department of the team can work on the strategy going forward.
She said, “Yes, we have had some injuries but that is part and parcel of the game. The positive news is that Sneh Rana is fit. She is absolutely raring to go. In my opinion, the pitches have been batter-friendly so far with shorter boundaries, which is a bit harsh on the bowlers. So, keeping that in mind the bowlers have done well. I would say that since the first game, the girls have come back stronger. They have understood what the plans are and we are looking to execute the same in our coming games.”
Al Khadeer is a former No. 1 ranked bowler in the ICC rankings for bowlers in Women's ODIs. She was instrumental in taking India to the final of the 2005 World Cup in South Africa.
Satyam Trivedi, Head of Adani Sportsline Group, touched upon how the franchise and set-up has been supporting the sporting ecosystem.
“I have always been very ambitious and vocal about our take on WPL. This is going to be the best property as far as women’s sport is concerned. This is going to be the second biggest league in terms of commercial sports or franchise sports in India. We have a number of fans coming to see the match which is so encouraging. I am confident that this platform is going to motivate and inspire many other leagues to follow this,” Satyam said.
“It (WPL) has become the talk of the town, like you go to a mall and people are talking about the tournament. My wife called me the other day that she was in a mall in Ahmedabad and people sitting next to her, on the next table, were talking about WPL and the performance of these cricketers and one of the guys was saying that this is more interesting than the performance that we see in men's cricket. So, this is a kind of discussion that is happening in the town. And in a matter of another 2-3 years it will go to another level,” he added.