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June 21, 2012
Mithali Raj, India women's captain, has said that though the odds favour hosts England in the upcoming tour, her young side would play positive cricket to challenge England in their own backyard.
India's 15-member squad left for England on Thursday to play five ODIs and two Twenty20 matches between June 26 and July 12. "England are a very strong team and facing them in their backyard is not going to be easy, but we can only be confident and do our best," Raj said. "I won't say we will win but we will play positive cricket. The team has a good mix of the new and experienced players."
England have been in top form, victorious in their previous seven ODIs, a winning streak back to last July. India, on the other hand, have struggled in recent series, winning only two of their past 10 ODIs, and going down 3-0 in the their last series, against Australia in March.
"England is a challenging place. I have played many tournaments there and I am sure with the experience, we will do well. The team played a quadrangular last year around the same time."
Raj said that her side had put the past behind them and were looking to the future. "With the World Cup and Asia Cup coming up, we have to be positive and confident. England conditions are tough for every cricketer. It is a challenge for us."
Raj was reinstated as captain in place of Anjum Chopra, after the Australia whitewash. She said that the change in captaincy would not affect the team's performance. "It is a challenge for me. The previous series against Australia did not go well for us," she said. "These decisions are for the selectors to make. As far as the girls are concerned, we are all professionals and have played together for sometime now. These changes won't matter at the end of the day. This is an important series and we have to perform as a team."
Raj, who has played eight Tests, 135 ODIs and 30 T20 matches for India, said that the team worked hard to prepare for the England tour. "We had a good preparatory camp in Mysore. It was more of match practice, one-day and T20. It went very well. Fortunately, the first few days of the camp in Mysore was overcast," she said. "We played practice matches against boys in Mysore which will give us confidence. That should help us."
Edited by Carlyle Laurie
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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But you can't expect a turnaround unless pitches, umpiring and practice facilities are simultaneously improved