Wed, 17 Aug 2022

Pallekele [Sri Lanka], June 30 (ANI): Ahead of the first ODI against Sri Lanka at Pallekele, Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur said captaincy comes naturally to her when she is on the field.

The three-match ODI series against Sri Lanka will herald a new start for Team India. The three-match series will start from Friday onwards. Though not part of the ICC ODI Championship, it will provide India a chance to move on from their poor performance in the World Cup.

"When I am leading, I feel I am more involved in the game. It always gives me a lot of confidence. Captaincy is something that comes naturally to me when I am on the field. Over time, when you have a lot of years of leading [the team], things get easier. Right now, I do not feel extra pressure on me," she said in a press conference ahead of first ODI.

"If I enjoy as captain, the rest of the group will also feel they can enjoy the moment. That is what I have been discussing in team meetings. I feel I am free to do what I want to do now. When you give players freedom, you can improve more. That is my motive, to give the players freedom to express themselves," she added.

India won the T20I series against the Lankans by 2-1.

For the first time since 2016, India would not have a split captaincy model, with Mithali Raj having retired from International Cricket. Harmanpreet Kaur is now the captain across both white-ball formats now.

There is a lot lined up for Team India though the next 50-over World Cup is three years away. This tour will be followed by Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham, then will arrive the T20I World Cup early next year in South Africa.

For Kaur, fielding and the fitness of players are important.

"As captain, I have always tried to keep goals. When I lead the team, there are things I want to do. Fitness part is specially important," she said.

"For skills, we have coaches who help us, but with fitness, if I can set a goal for my team, and if they can see me and get motivated, I want to set an example. All of them have skills, we do not need to tell them much, but fitness is something I want our team to improve [on], and the second part is fielding. These are the two areas we want to cover well," she added.

India has roped in a batting coach, Hrishikesh Kanitkar, alongside head coach Ramesh Powar, who also looks after the bowling. During the World Cup, BCCI had hired Mugdha Bavare as the mental conditioning coach, but that association has not extended till this series.

But Harmanpreet would like someone to work on the mental aspect of her team. She was able to benefit from her chats with Bavare during the World Cup and it helped her come out of her bad form.

"Mughda ma'am has done a lot of work. She helped me a lot during the World Cup. We do need people like her in the team. Sadly, this time around, she is not a part of the group but hopefully we can have someone like her who can travel with us," she said.

"We do have skills coaches, but the mental side if we have someone who can take care, if we can talk to that person and share thoughts, sometimes you need that in your life for small problems. Skills are not going anyway but mentally if you feel free, you can improve your game and give it 100 per cent. Hopefully in the future, we will talk to the staff and see if we can bring her back," she added. (ANI)

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