"For skills, we have coaches who help us, but with fitness, if I can set a goal for my team, and if they can see me and get motivated, I want to set an example"Harmanpreet Kaur
The ODI series against Sri Lanka will herald a new beginning for the Indian women's team.
The three-match series, to be played in Pallekele from Friday, is part of the ODI championship and provides an opportunity to India to wipe their slate clean and move on from their poor World Cup performance. India won the T20I series 2-1, but will want to iron out a few grey areas, mostly in the bowling department, which is without the talismanic Jhulan Goswami.
For the first time since 2016, India won't have a split-captaincy model, with Mithali Raj having retired. Harmanpreet Kaur, captain in both white-ball formats now, suggested that being in charge across formats would be a massive advantage for her as it would give her the bandwidth to put her stamp on the team.
"When I'm leading, I feel I am more involved in the game," she said ahead of the first ODI. "It always gives me a lot of confidence. Captaincy is something that comes naturally to me when I'm on the field. Over time, when you have a lot of years of leading [the team], things get easier. Right now, I don't feel extra pressure on me.
"If I enjoy as captain, the rest of the group will also feel they can enjoy the moment. That's what I've been discussing in team meetings. I feel I'm free to do what I want to do now. When you give players the freedom, you can improve more. That is my motive, to give the players freedom to express themselves."
Though the next 50-over World Cup is three years away, there's a lot lined up. This current tour will be followed by the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Then there's a T20 World Cup to look forward to, early next year in South Africa. On the way, non-negotiable to Harmanpreet are the fitness and the fielding of the players.
"As captain, I've always tried to keep goals," she said. "When I lead the team, there are things I want to do. Fitness part is very important, especially.
"For skills, we have coaches who help us, but with fitness, if I can set a goal for my team, and if they can see me and get motivated, I want to set an example. All of them have skills, we don't need to tell them much, but fitness is something I want our team to improve [on], and the second part is fielding. These are the two areas we want to cover well."
The physical aspect of things is well covered, with India having now roped in a batting coach in Hrishikesh Kanitkar, alongside head coach Ramesh Powar, who also looks after the bowling. At the World Cup, the BCCI had hired a mental conditioning coach in Mugdha Bavare, but that association hasn't extended to this series.
Harmanpreet, however, would like someone for the players to turn to for work on the mental aspect, having benefited personally after chats with Bavare during the World Cup, which helped turn around her wretched form.
"Mugdha ma'am has done a lot of work. She helped me a lot during the World Cup," Harmanpreet said. "We do need people like her in the team. Sadly, this time around, she isn't part of the group but hopefully we can have someone like her who can travel with us.
"We do have skills coaches, but the mental side if we have someone who can take care, if we can talk to that person and share thoughts, sometimes you need that in your life for small problems. Skills aren't going anyway but mentally if you feel free, you can improve your game and give it 100%. Hopefully in the future, we will talk to the staff and see if we can bring her back."