Mithali Raj
Mithali Raj (IANS Photo)

India women ODI captain Mithali Raj recently led India to a 2-1 series win against New Zealand, something which she felt has given her side a lot of confidence as they hope to ensure a top-four spot in the rankings for a direct entry to the ICC World Cup 2021. (ALSO READ: 1st T20: India women implode in chase)

India comprehensively won the first two ODIs of the three-match series in New Zealand before the hosts pulled one back for a consolation win. The defeat saw India dropping a spot from No. 2 to No. 3 but that has kept them inside the top-four which is the criteria to ensure a direct qualification.

For the 2017 edition of the event in England where they lost a dramatic final, India had to go through the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier where they ensure a berth beating Bangladesh in a Super Six match.

“The last time we played the Qualifiers, but this time we want to have direct qualification for 2021,” Mithali was quoted as saying by the ICC in a media release on Wednesday. “With series against England and the Windies coming up, we will definitely look to get maximum points.”

India next face England in a home series that starts from February 22. The current championship runs between 2017 and 2020 with the top-four teams punching their tickets for the world cup in New Zealand. Currently, the standings is led by Australia followed by New Zealand, India and England.

Talking about the New Zealand series, Mithali said, “Coming to New Zealand, we did not have too many players who had the experience of the conditions with only Jhulan (Goswami) and me having toured here before. So winning two games here has given us a lot of confidence.”

She continued, “In the first game, our spinners dominated and the opening pair gave a great start. In the second game, the spinners continued the momentum and though we had a collapse, the partnership between Smriti and me helped. Losing the third game, we have come down to number three in the rankings table but I am happy that India are in the top four.”