India captain Harmanpreet Kaur has revealed that Troy Cooley, who was appointed as fast-bowling coach at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru in November 2021, is currently with the womens team ahead of their T20I tri-series starting from Thursday, featuring hosts South Africa and West Indies.
Harmanpreet had admitted to missing the services of a bowling coach during the 4-1 T20I series defeat to Australia at home in December 2022 as Ramesh Powar was transferred to the NCA as a spin-bowling coach, with Hrishikesh Kanitkar appointed as batting coach of the side. It also means India’s women’s cricket team does not have a head coach currently.
“Troy has joined us. We have already worked with him whenever we go to NCA and almost every bowler knows him very well. They know how he works and all. So he is already with the team and we are working with him.
“He is sharing his experience with all our bowlers. We had a couple of sessions with him where he was giving tips to the bowlers. I think he is working really well, hopefully, we will see the results also,” she said ahead of the first match of the tri-series against South Africa.
Harmanpreet also confirmed that fast-bowling all-rounder Pooja Vastrakar, who missed out on the series against Australia due to injury, has been training hard in the nets alongside the team and a call on her inclusion in the playing eleven will be taken after talking to the team physiotherapist.
“She (Pooja Vastrakar) is with us, and she is doing really well in the nets. The last call can only be taken by the physio. But I can see she is batting and bowling well. Before finalising the final XI, we just need to have a chat with the physio.”
“We need to see what kind of workload we have to manage as she missed out on the Australia series because of injury. But she’s doing everything in all departments, and she’s a very important member of the side, and we need to discuss her workload.”
The tri-series also marks the return of fast bowler Shikha Pandey, who last played for India in October 2021 and is also in the squad for the Women’s T20 World Cup, to be held in South Africa from February 10-26. Shikha had bagged 11 wickets in the senior women’s T20 competition at an economy rate of 4.28.
“Well, as you know she is a very experienced bowler, so we wanted her back in the side. Another reason was we are playing in South Africa, and South Africa is a place that is more friendly to the pacers. So we wanted to strengthen our medium pacers lineup.”
“You have seen us playing with more spinners, but now we are in South Africa, we need more pace bowling options and that was the reason we brought her back. And she has done really well in the domestic season, plus her experience too is there.”
“She is someone who can swing the ball in the -. She is experienced to bowl in the death overs also. Now we have had a couple of practice sessions, and we have given her different types of scenarios where she can go and execute herself.”
“And the game plan… we will discuss which areas she is more comfortable to go about because, after a long time, she is going to play. Let’s see how she will adapt to the situation and approach her game,” elaborated Harmanpreet on the reasons behind Shikha’s return to the national set-up.
With no Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh due to the duo playing U19 Women’s T20 World Cup in Benoni and Potchefstroom, India need to see who fills in for them in the tri-series and Harmanpreet insists options are there in the side.
“S Meghana is also there, Yastika Bhatia is also a very good option for us. I think we will sit and discuss. Everybody is looking in good touch, whoever is batting in the nets is really doing well.”
“We have to take a call, whoever is going to open with Smriti as Shafali is not there. I’m really happy that we have a couple of options. As a captain, you need that type of competition, where you have to think really hard to pick a XI.”
The tri-series serves as vital preparation for India ahead of starting their Women’s T20 World Cup campaign against Pakistan in Cape Town on February 12. India would be entering the competition as runners-up in the 2020 edition of the tournament as Australia won the trophy at home.
“We want to play our natural game, we don’t want to try something new. South Africa is a country where you have good tracks to bat on, and it also helps the bowlers. We just want to enjoy our cricket.”
“We had a very good series against Australia (at home), though we did not win, there were lots of positives we achieved as a team. We want to keep doing the good work. Ahead of the World Cup, this series is very important to get the rhythm back,” concluded Harmanpreet.