India’s growth in women’s cricket has been phenomenal, particularly in last five years: Shelley Nitschke

Australia women’s team head coach Shelley Nitschke has heaped praise on India’s progression in the cricketing circuit, saying that the country’s growth has been nothing short of phenomenal, especially in the last five years.

India women’s cricket team came firmly under limelight when they finished as runners-up in the 2017 ODI World Cup, and even defeated Australia in the semi-final. They went on to be runners-up in the 2020 T20 World Cup and took the silver medal in the Women’s T20 Cricket event at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games earlier this year.

“When I first played against India in the 2005 World Cup (won by Australia), and they made the final, I think that was sort of the start of a real growth period for them and they just seem to get better and better. I think in the last probably four or five years they’ve had a real acceleration.”

We see how aggressive they are with their batting. They’ve got some great young players, they’re athletic in the field, so I think their growth has been phenomenal, particularly in the last five years and we’re seeing that in this series and it’s exactly what we expected from them and their home country,” said Shelley ahead of the fourth T20I at Brabourne Stadium.

Of late, India have been a tough opponent to face for Australia, like when the Harmanpreet Kaur-led side defeated them in the 2020 T20 World Cup opening match or ending their unbeaten 26-match winning streak in ODIs in 2021 or more recently, ending their unbeaten run in 2022 with a thrilling Super Over encounter in the second of five T20Is at DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.

“I think what Shafali (Verma) said is true (on India relishing facing off against Australia), we do notice that when we play India, they certainly play to their potential and really challenge us. I think Shafali has been one that we’ve seen grow over the years and is certainly having a really good series and … to see Richa Ghosh out there as well in this series, it certainly bodes well for the future for India.”

It also pushes our group as well, it challenges us. I think they’ve contested like we knew they would. They’re a good team. They play tough cricket (and) it’s tough conditions in India. It’s been a really tight battle so far and it’s good to be 2-1 ahead but there’s two really important games to go,” added Shelley.

After the Super Over loss, Australia bounced back in the series with a 21-run win in third T20I at Brabourne and currently lead the series 2-1. Saturday’s match presents them to have a chance to seal a series win.

The coach acknowledged that there have been changes in the eleven due to injury and illness in the camp, but feels defending 172 in third T20I will boost the confidence of bowlers in the build-up to the T20 World Cup in South Africa next year.

“We probably didn’t defend that well with the ball in the second game. To be able to defend that total (on Wednesday when) we felt like there were a few more runs out there, I think that was a really good confidence booster for our attack, especially because we’ve had a different attack for the first three games,” Shelley said.

“They should take a lot of confidence out of that. I think they bowled much better lines out here in the third game so it was a really good effort from our bowling group for sure. We’ve had a few injuries and illness along the way, which has forced those changes, but it also gives us an opportunity to have a look at some things moving into the World Cup,” she concluded.

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