Mithali Raj is leading India in South Africa    AFP
Mithali Raj is leading India in South Africa AFP

Mumbai: The Indian Women‘s team is going to South Africa early, and skipper Mithali Raj today said it would help the side to get used to the conditions there.

The women’s squad will tour South Africa for a three-match ODI series, which starts at Kimberly on February 5, followed by a five-match T20 series beginning on February 13 at Potchefstroom. The team will fly tomorrow.

Asked whether going early to South Africa will help, Mithali said, “We had (also) gone early for the World Cup in England (last year) to get acclimatised.

“It helps (because) we try and organise practise games…get used to the bounce, because normally you don’t get to see that bounce in subcontinental wickets and the lateral movement which we are probably expecting, because this time we are playing with two new balls,” she told reporters.

“This is our first international tournament where we will be playing with two new balls. So it is important, we are going early so that we get used to these conditions,” the 35-year-old batswoman added.

Coach Tushar Arothe echoed her views.

“We need to get acclimatised, that is very important, and are playing a couple of practise games before the first ODI. We went to the World Cup 10 days early….which helped us,” Arothe said.

Incidentally, Indian men’s team, currently on South Africa tour, has come in for criticism after losing the Test series for not having enough practise in those conditions.

Mithali concedes that the coming tour won’t be easy.

“I would tell the young girls to start fresh, it is an important tour and it is not going to be easy, because we have played South Africa before, we have toured South Africa for the quadrangular series.

“The South Africa team is a very good side and we have seen in the World Cup, they almost made it to the finals, so it’s going to be competitive cricket and it will test each and every player,” she said.

The Indian women’s team rose to fame after ending as runners-up in the World Cup, but they have not played after that.

However, Mithali said the break helped them focus on fitness.

“See, before the World Cup, we have been busy with the qualifiers and the Quad-triangular series and the preparation for the World Cup, so its been a long season for us.

“And after the World Cup, it was important for girls to recover, we had few injuries, ideally we as players would have preferred to have a continuation…but when you have injuries in the side, you need to recover and get back your fitness levels,” she said.

She also said the girls were in match mode, as they have played enough domestic cricket, and also worked hard on fitness. “…they look agile and fit,” she added.