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May 12, 2008
Mithali Raj, who led India to their fourth successive Asia Cup title, has said the squad, which includes four Under-21 players, was picked keeping in mind the World Cup in Australia next year.
"I am happy to say that we have a good pool of players with whom we will work over the next nine months not only to give them the required experience but also to find the combination which will help us in Australia," Raj said. "We wanted to provide the right platform for the youngsters to show their talent and Sri Lanka was the best place because of the similarities in the Asian subcontinent conditions which made it relatively easy for the new players to show their skills."
Among the new players who did well in the tournament are offspinner Pujare Seema, left-arm spinner Gouher Sultana and batsman Priyanka Roy. While Seema led the wicket-taking list with 14 from five matches, Sultana picked up six, and Roy scored 116 runs in six games. But keeping in mind the hard and fast tracks of Australia, India also gave chances to medium-pacers Snehal Pradhan and Devika Palshikar.
Their next assignment is a tour of England in August-September and according to Raj, India had to be careful with their preparations as each tour is played in different conditions.
"Our next assignment is in England and the conditions in England are different as compared to Sri Lanka or Australia. But the basics remain unchanged and the bottom line is that we have to train and work hard in every single match we play in the lead-up to the World Cup. We have a talented pool of players and over the next nine months I would like to see improvement in fielding and match planning."
Raj reached 3000 ODI runs during the tournament and became the first Indian woman to reach the landmark. "I didn't give it a thought while I was batting in the final as my focus was on collecting as many runs as possible in the final overs until I got a message from the dressing room that I was close to the 3000-mark. To be in the top five leading run-getters' list is a big honour and I hope to score many more runs for India."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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