India lost the five-match Twenty20 International home series against Australia 4-1 after losing the final T20I for 54 runs on Tuesday. And while that doesn’t bode too well in the build-up to the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in February, captain Harmanpreet believes that the team will reach another level in the months to follow.

Talking about the quality of the Australian side, who are reigning World Champions and also the gold medallists at the Commonwealth Games, Harmanpreet said the amount of cricket they are exposed to due to the Women’s Big Bash League plays a huge role. It is the same degree of exposure the Indians are hoping to achieve at the inaugural edition of the Women’s IPL, which is expected to be a catalyst for change in India.

“WBBL brings them a lot of competition. When you play a lot of good cricket in the domestic season, you know your role, you know what you can bring to the team. I think that is giving them a lot of positivity and the clarity you need as a team,” Harmanpreet said in the post-match press conference.

“The upcoming months are very important for us. In March, we will play the Women’s IPL and things will change for us. The U-19 World Cup is also there. We will definitely get a lot of players from there along with the WIPL. I think after six-seven months, this team will be on a different level and I am really positive about that,” she added.

Opener Shafali Verma will lead India’s 15-member squad for the upcoming bilateral away T20 series against South Africa U-19 and the ICC U-19 Women’s T20 World Cup in January. Sharing leadership tips with the youngster, Harmanpreet said, “I saw the way she was leading in domestic cricket. She is brilliant doing that, she knows what she is doing. The only advice that I want to give her is that she should just play freely and enjoy the game.”

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She added, “They know their role and that makes the job of the captain easy. The captain can just go and tell what is expected of them and whenever she joins the team she should talk to the players. It’s important to go out and perform because if you do that everything is much easier for the team then.”

The skipper praised the team’s bowling performance in the first ten overs of the match on Tuesday, while emphasising the need to better their death bowling. She stated that the squad acknowledges the shortcomings in the bowling during the final ten overs and that it is an area they are hoping to improve upon before the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa in February.

Analysing the bowling performance , she said, “We are not giving them easy runs in the first 10 overs but after the 10th over things are changing. We were also thinking about these things. We planned a lot of things but were not able to execute them. We will work on it to get results. We will analyse who can bowl for us after the 10th over and in the death overs.”

She added, “We earlier wanted to work on our first 6 overs and are getting results but we need to analyze our death bowling. It is difficult to do it during the course of a series.

“As a team, we had our belief that we will play our best and play positively. Especially in the batting, everyone was positive and looking to score. First 10 overs we have been really good and we can carry that forward, we need to work on our bowling in the death overs which we will do in the one-month break that we are getting.”

Another area that Harmanpreet identified as an area to work upon is having a back-up to Pooja Vastrakar. While Vastrakar was ruled out of the series due to an injury, the pace battery was largely down to newcomer Anjali Sarvani along with Renuka Singh Thakur. Meghna Singh was included in the team for the first two T20Is but she had rather expensive outings on both occasions.

“Seam is going to play a key role in coming matches. Sometimes expected performances cannot be delivered by players. Pooja will fill in the third-fourth seamer role but we were also looking at other seam options as the World Cup is in South Africa where pacers are more relevant and we want to have a solid pace lineup heading into the World Cup,” added Harmanpreet.

Watch the press conference here.

Quotes courtesy: PTI