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Harmanpreet Kaur happy to be working with 'calm' Hrishikesh Kanitkar once again

"When we came to know he would be around for the Australia series, there was a lot of positivity in the team"

S Sudarshanan
India captain Harmanpreet Kaur has lauded newly appointed batting coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar for the calmness he brings to the side, and said there should be no problems for the team in adjusting with him. Kanitkar will oversee the side during the upcoming T20Is against Australia, having been given the job after the BCCI moved Ramesh Powar to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) as men's spin-bowling coach as part of a "restructuring module". That brought to an end Powar's second stint as head coach with the women's side.
"I have always enjoyed working with Ramesh sir and we have grown as a team under him and learnt a lot," Harmanpreet said in Mumbai, on the eve of the first T20I against Australia. "It's a BCCI decision to move him to NCA and have him work as spin-bowling coach. Hrishi sir is there with us and we had a very good experience with him in Sri Lanka. He brings in a lot of experience and we are only looking forward. We are in right hands.
"[Kanitkar] is calm and we needed someone who can give us the calmness on the field. We have seen in the past, sometimes in crucial situation, girls need support of some calm figure who can guide them through their thoughts. Having experienced it all in Sri Lanka, when we came to know he would be around for the Australia series, there was a lot of positivity in the team.
"As a batting unit, he helped us achieve our targets. There were some games in Sri Lanka where we lost early wickets but still we were able to score 250. Everybody was happy with the way he was presenting things to us."
Kanitkar, who was recently with the India men's side on their tour of New Zealand, worked in an interim capacity with the women in Sri Lanka as a batting consultant. India won that T20I series 2-1 and blanked the hosts 3-0 in the ODIs. In the third ODI, despite being in a spot at 124 for 6, India managed to get to 255 for 9 through a 97-run partnership between Harmanpreet and Pooja Vastrakar.
Powar had previously been at the helm between July 2018 and November 2018, during which time India made the semi-final of the Women's T20 World Cup 2018. In his latest stint, India had a group-stage exit at this year's Women's World Cup in New Zealand and finished runners-up at the Commonwealth Games before winning the Women's T20 Asia Cup in October. The run also included a bilateral ODI series win in England and a victory in Australia, last year, which halted the hosts' record 26-match winning streak.
It is as yet unconfirmed when the BCCI will be appointing a full-time head coach to replace Powar, but with Kanitkar, who's officially batting coach, having worked with the team before, Harmanpreet felt confident of the team preparing well in the lead up to the Women's T20 World Cup, which is just over two months away.
"If it would have been a new coach, it could have been difficult," she said. "But we have already worked with Hrishi sir, so I don't think there will be problems. With a new coach you have to explain about how we are working and how we want to move forward. But Hrishi sir already knows the type of work and that is not going to change much. We want to continue playing the way we have done in the last three months and I don't think we'd be changing much in the way we play."
For the Australia T20Is, India opted to leave out seasoned allrounder Sneh Rana, and Dayalan Hemalatha and Kiran Navgire, both specifically in the wider set-up as finishers. Left-arm seamer Anjali Sarvani, who topped the bowling charts in the Senior Women's T20 Trophy as well as the Senior Women's Inter-Zonal T20 Trophy, got her maiden call-up, while legspinning allrounder Devika Vaidya returned to the T20I setup after eight years. Harmanpreet said that the door was not closed on Rana, but domestic performers have been rewarded.
"If you talk about Anjali, she took highest wickets and the others have done well too," she said. "Selection depends on your performances and those who have done well are in the team. Sneh Rana and all are good players; in the upcoming tournaments whenever they'll do well, they'll come back. We are having an eye on them. It's not like if today they are not in the side, we are ignoring them. They are part of the system and when they perform, they will come back."
Harmanpreet also confirmed that Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh, both part of the India squad for the inaugural Under-19 Women's T20 World Cup next month, will not play all the matches against Australia. They will also miss the tri-series that follows, also featuring South Africa and West Indies, in the lead-up to the senior Women's T20 World Cup.
"Before [the India Under-19 camp] if they get a chance to play against Australia it will help their confidence," she said. "Till the camp is announced, they will play and then they'll join the Under-19 camp as Shafali is leading. When we will play the tri-series in South Africa, they are definitely not available because they will be playing the Under-19 World Cup."

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo