India Women's ODI captain Mithali Raj wants the 2022 50-over World Cup in New Zealand to be her "swansong", bringing the curtain down on a career spanning over two decades.
"It's been 21 years of international cricket and I know 2022 is my swansong, the World Cup," Raj said during a virtual book launch on Saturday. "The last year was equal to the 20 years of my international cricket.
"I know we are in difficult times but it takes a lot out of me to keep working on my fitness. I am not getting any younger and I know the importance of fitness. It is important to be in a good emotional and mental set-up, knowing that there will be very few tours before the World Cup."
India Women are set to play at least two bilateral series - away in England and Australia - before the World Cup.
"Every tour (from now on) is important for me as a batter to know how I am going to get the team to regroup and build a side for the World Cup," Raj said. "Yeah, I am optimistic, looking at the manner in which the girls have been working with whatever facilities they have in these times and the enthusiasm they have been showing for an upcoming series."
Raj admitted that fast bowling was one area the team needed to improve, especially because mainstay Jhulan Goswami has also hit the final lap of her career. "We definitely need to look at a few players and prepare them for New Zealand," Raj said.
Sunil Gavaskar, a co-panelist at the discussion, felt that Raj and her players could take a leaf out of Virat Kohli's playbook of looking at an opponent's eyes and giving it back without getting intimidated.
"I was with my wife at the Lord's watching the 2017 Women's ODI World Cup final. What I saw was that, English girls came hard at your lower order and intimidated them with their attitude," Gavaskar said. "I would want our girls to glare back at the opposition instead of looking down. I feel body language is a very important aspect. Look at Virat Kohli, he stares at opposition and the rest of the team does that."