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Players are used to playing with red ball, thanks to Inter-zonal tourney: Muzumdar

The Indian women team last played the Test format in December 2023 against England and Australia and emerged victorious in both matches.

Players are used to playing with red ball, thanks to Inter-zonal tourney: Muzumdar
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Indian Women's Team (BCCI)

CHENNAI: Competing in five-day format is special, Indian women cricket team's head coach Amol Muzumdar said on Wednesday, asserting his side is well-prepared for the one-off Test against South Africa, thanks to the multi-day inter-zonal tournament at home.

The Indian women team last played the Test format in December 2023 against England and Australia and emerged victorious in both matches.

"We enjoy playing all three formats, but Tests are always special. After back-to-back Tests against England and Australia in December, it was great on BCCI's part to include the inter-zonal in the multi-day format, and they are all so used to playing red-ball cricket," Muzumdar said during a press meet.

Deepti Sharma had led the East Zone to title triumph when they eked out a narrow one-wicket win over South Zone in the final in April this year. The 2023-24 domestic season for Indian women had concluded with that match.

"We are aware that red-ball cricket will be a part (of calendar), going forward. Hence, the inter-zonal was critical so that the players get the message."

Muzumdar said having women's Test championship will be great for the game.

"It's not a bad idea to have a (Women's) Test Championship, something we can look forward to. But that is for the Board to decide. If it happens, it's indeed better for the game," he said.

The India coach admitted that his team needs to improve in all departments but insisted that the players are ready for the challenges.

"There's scope for improvement in all three departments; there always is, along with fitness. We do have the momentum, but we are trying to focus on every game as it comes. Being a different format, the demands are different, and the team is up for it.

"We try to cater to all the demands since those are the demands of modern-day cricket; you cannot escape that. There have been a few changes in the squad (from the ODIs), but the core remains the same. It's not easy, but it's a challenge that we accept to adapt to different formats."

Indian women have played just one Test in Chennai, way back in 1976 against the West Indies. The game had ended in a draw.

"It's an iconic ground; we are aware of the history it carries. Even though a lot of cricket has not been played here, we are aware of what the demands are -- the pitch and the ground. We will try to cater to that," he said.

The Test could see the debut of players such as Shubha Satheesh, Sneh Rana, Rajeshwar Gayakwad and Saika Ishaque.

"Those players are very important, and we did have a bowlers' camp at the NCA. They were specifically given the red ball. They were told a few things to do while their weekly chart was organised and given to them. They had a practice session yesterday. They look absolutely fine. They are completely fresh and raring to go."

Commenting on the prospect of having Shabnam Md Shakil play, Muzumdar hailed her as a 'superb talent'.

"We have made a concise decision to include her so that she gets a first-hand experience and the feel of the dressing room and the culture."

The just-concluded ODIs against South Africa, which India won 3-0, saw Smriti Mandhana bowl three overs and even grab a wicket.

When asked if she would bowl in the Test, Muzumdar said,"She'd be happy if I said, 'Yes, she will be bowling with the red ball'."

"But, we have trained in that fashion and put in a concise effort. It didn't just happen on that day."

PTI
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