The Indian cricket team led by Harmanpreet Kaur registered convincing wins over Australia and New Zealand in the group stages to reach their first ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final earlier this month. But in the summit clash at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, they were clearly outplayed by the hosts. It was evident that the lack of variation in bowling attack on a flat deck and absence of big-hitting abilities while chasing a sizeable total on a big ground put paid to India’s hopes of winning the crown.

While Harmanpreet was happy with the way India played in the tournament, she admitted in an interview to Mumbai Mirror that the Indian women’s team is almost five-six years behind the likes of Australia, New Zealand and England in terms of facilities, fitness routines and the overall domestic set up.

“These teams you spoke about [Australia, New Zealand, England] have a pretty old and robust cricket culture. India has just about started getting required facilities. Earlier no one was serious about women’s cricket. But as the team performances are getting better, other things are getting streamlined.

“Now girls have understood their responsibility towards being fit. Earlier there used to be huge difference between a domestic player and what is expected at international level. But now some 30 girls are given individual programme by the BCCI. So when one of them is picked for India, she is not clueless of what is expected of her. As we keep improving our domestic level, the performances at international level will improve. That is why I said we are five-six years behind these teams because our domestic set-up is not as good as it should be,” she was quoted as saying.

The 31-year-old also justified the use of spin-heavy bowling attack in the tournament saying there was not enough depth in the medium pace department for the team to change tactics.

“See there has been little planning in this regard. We had not thought about the replacement for senior fast bowlers. So that is where we have erred. We get spinners in domestic cricket and of good quality too. You have to play your best available players.

“In an ideal world, you would look for two medium-pacers, two spinners and two all-rounders. But the question is, do you have them? We don’t have medium pacers so we have to go with the one who is more confident and can give us results,” she said adding that finding quality fast bowlers will take another year or two at least.

Harmanpreet was, however, all praise for the spinners and coach Narendra Hirwani for working out a plan for every game that depended on the type of wicket they played. “Narendra Hirwani, our spin bowling coach, played a huge role. He worked very hard with every bowler. He would tell them about pace variations on different tracks. He would advise them what the best delivery was for them.”

Read the full interview here