We can't be passengers overseas - Goswami
India Women are eager to prove themselves in foreign conditions, the captain, Jhulan Goswami, said on the eve of the team's departure to play an ODI and Twenty20 quadrangular series in England. India, who will play the hosts, Australia and New Zealand, are particularly strong on the bowling front, she said.
"We have always been good in home conditions. We beat England - who are currently the world's best team - and West Indies here. Abroad our performances have been up and down," Goswami said in Bangalore. "We have to change the mindset that we cannot perform there. We can't just be passengers on these tours, have to show something of what we can do.
"It's still early summer there, once we go there we need to have a look at the conditions and decide on a playing combination. We have a few spinning allrounders, which is good for the team combination. Bowling is our strongest area among all three departments."
Amita Sharma, the vice-captain, said English conditions were not as different to India's as made out. "Now pitches all over the world are the same. High-scoring surfaces, where teams get 300-plus scores," she said. "People talk a lot about the ball seaming around in England and the like, but mainly there is just a little more bounce there than we get here."
Senior batsman Mithali Raj agreed. "On my last visit to England, I noticed that they are trying to prepare batting-friendly wickets for ODIs and Twenty20s - not much moisture, a little placid, except of course if the weather is wet."
These series, Raj said, will be a yardstick to measure India against the best in women's cricket. "The tournaments, which are against the three best teams in the world, will show us where we stand and what needs to be done, especially in terms of the 2013 World Cup."
Keeping in mind the strong opposition, India's preparation has focussed as much on fitness and fielding as skills. "We've worked a lot on our fielding, our fitness has improved immensely, we've been doing a lot of athletic and agility work, and it should show in the upcoming series," Raj said.
On the skills worked on, senior fast bowler Snehal Pradhan said, "We have been planning our lengths and working on the kind of movement we could generate there [in England]."
With four frontline spinners and three frontline fast bowlers, the squad is unusually balanced for a tour of England, even if the wickets are, as the players say, more placid now. Coach Anju Jain dismissed questions on the side's combination. "You'll have to ask the BCCI about selection matters, we make the most with what we have," she said.
Both Goswami and Raj stressed the need to play more international cricket. "We need to play at least three international tournaments a year. Playing international and domestic cricket is totally different, there is a big gap between the two," Goswami said. "So more international cricket is necessary for youngsters to gain exposure."
Raj said the team needed to play more Twenty20 cricket to improve in the format. "We don't play too many international Twenty20 games, we just go directly into the Twenty20 World Cup," she said. "England and Australia play a lot between themselves, and if you notice they tend to get to 150-160 regularly. We average around 140. We are getting the hang of the format, but don't come up with big totals consistently enough."
The Twenty20 tournament begins on June 23, with India taking on Australia at Billericay. The ODI series is from June 30.
Nikita Bastian is a sub editor at ESPNcricinfo