Kanitkar indicates Shafali, Ghosh will have set roles in India U-19 side with T20 World Cup in mind

He brushes aside concerns about Rodrigues' form, says "she will bounce back very soon"

S Sudarshanan
S Sudarshanan
Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh look on, Australia vs India, Women's World Cup 2022, Auckland, March 19, 2022

Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh are the two players with international experience in India's Under-19 side for the inaugural World Cup  •  Getty Images

India batters Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh will have set roles when they join the Youth team for the first Women's Under-19 World Cup in South Africa in January. India's acting coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar revealed on Monday that the reason for sending two already established internationals to a U-19 tournament was to get them used to the country where the next Women's T20 World Cup will be held in two months time.
As a result, both Shafali and Richa will miss India's T20 tri-series against South Africa and West Indies at the end of January.
"We'll have a few things we want them [Shafali and Ghosh] to continue doing in terms of preparation [for the Women's T20 World Cup]," Kanitkar, who took over days before the start of the five-match T20I series against Australia, said on Monday.
"I'll have a word with the Under-19 coach so that the communication goes to both ends. We'll have a few [discussions so that] there's clarity with the coach as well as the players, and there's no confusion on what we want and what they should be doing. Obviously, they'll play for the Under-19 team and [we] want that team to win. And that's always the case. But we also want them to prepare a certain way."
Shafali and Ghosh are the two players with international experience in India's Under-19 T20 World Cup squad. The pair has been in good form in the ongoing home series too. Shafali has 127 runs in four games, the most for India, including a half-century in the third T20I. Ghosh's batting in the lower middle order has been like a breath of fresh air. Her strike rate of 190.74 has been the best for India this series and her 13-ball 26 was crucial in the hosts tying the second game. She almost propelled India to a win in the fourth game, too.
"They are growing in confidence for sure," Kanitkar said. "They know the game a little bit better, from a batting point of view. I really give a lot of importance to learning from each and every one of our experiences and not just go by if 'you've scored a fifty, it's a good day'. It doesn't work like that. Every day you learn something and you use that to get better the next day... it could be zero, it could be a hundred, it could be 20.
"I think they buy into that and we are pretty frank about sharing views. If somebody has played well, got runs and then you know should have continued and didn't continue, I'll call a spade a spade. But I'll make sure it's positive."
Kanitkar also brushed aside concerns about the form of Jemimah Rodrigues. The No. 3 batter has scores of 0, 4, 16 and 8, and while she has looked in good touch - take the three fours in the third game or the cover-point drive in the fourth - the big scores have eluded her.
"It's absolutely not [a concern]," Kanitkar said. "I think she's got a lot of ability and has proven that in the past two-three games. I've had so many times where I've had four or five games that didn't go my way. That doesn't mean a player is not good.
"It's not always the technique; it could be technical, it could be tactical, it could be mental. There are so many things to it. Technique is the easiest thing that you put in place - you watch videos, you know this is happening, that's happening, you change this, change that, draw a few arrows on the screen and all those things.
"We'll have a few [discussions so that] there's clarity with the [Under-19] coach as well as the players, and there's no confusion on what we want and what they should be doing."
Kanitkar on Shafali, Ghosh's role with the Under-19 side
"But many times, it's deeper than that and about how you think in a certain situation. These things can't change in five minutes. Jemi is hitting the ball well, as we saw she's striking it well. It's not like she's struggling to play those bowlers. But it's something that's a bit of a work-in-progress and she'll bounce back very soon."
Kanitkar was non-committal about his tenure as the acting head coach but said that the team will soon have a bowling coach. He said that knowing the players from before - he was the batting consultant when India toured Sri Lanka in late June - also helped him go about with his methods.
"I know what works for each one as individuals," he said. "So that helps in talking to them, discussing things with them, and how they understand. It helps to know your players and that's made it a little easier.
"We've been able to address a few things that we could in a short time, and things are turning around. I think we are on the right track. But we are in the middle of a series so there's only so much you can do. You can't take everything off the rails and then do it [from scratch]."

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo