Mumbai: Offered a chance to play a four-day Test after eight years, Indian women's cricket captain Mithali Raj welcomed it and said the youngsters in the squad, who are embarking on a 23-day tour of England, would benefit a lot from playing the longer version of the game. (Also Read: Ganguly Wants Aaron to Play in 4th Test)
She also said it would be a big challenge and a huge achievement if the team got the better of the more experienced hosts in their backyard in the one-off Test and the three ODIs that will follow during the visit.
"Only three of us - myself, Jhulan (Goswami) and Karuna Jain - had played the last Test in 2006. I feel it's easier to adapt from playing the longer version of the game to the ODIs and T20s. Our team is inexperienced in Tests but experienced in ODIs. The younger players would benefit. (Related: Anderson Admitted to Abusing Jadeja)
"It's a big challenge and beating England in England will be a huge achievement for the team. The last time we went there (in 2012) we came close to doing it but lost the series (5-game ODI rubber) after taking a 2-0 lead," said Hyderabad batter Mithali at the pre-departure media conference at the Cricket Board's headquarters here on Sunday.
The team is scheduled to play a two-day warm-up game (August 7 and 8 at Loughborough, Haslegrave) ahead of the one-off Test from August 13-16 (Wormsley Cricket Ground). The team will also play a warm-up one day game (August 19, Harrogate CC) before the three-match ODI series scheduled on August 21, 23 (both at Scarborough CC) and August 25 (Lord's). (Read: Aamir, Salim Malik Back Prison Terms for Match Fixers)
The Indian women's last international appearance was during the World T20 Championship in Bangladesh, played along with the men's event, in March and prior to that they had played three ODIs and as many T20s against Sri Lanka at home last season.
Asked whether BCCI should arrange more Test matches, the 31-year-old Mithali said "We want to play more matches, that's all, whether it's Tests, ODIs or T20s." She skirted the issue when asked whether the team should have been fielded in the Incheon Asian Games starting on September 19.
"It's upto the BCCI. All we want is to play more matches." India are not sending the men's team too for the pan-Asian quadrennial sports spectacle after not sending a team four years ago when the Games were held in Guangzhou, China. The only occasion an Indian cricket team has been fielded by the BCCI in a multi-sport Games was during the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur when the men's team took part.
The England-bound women's team had a seven-day camp in Bangalore and played a two-day practice game against the Karnataka CA under 19 boys' team, said manager and former woman international Sudha Shah - who had scored 601 runs in 21 matches when women's cricket was not governed by BCCI or ICC. (Read: Sri Lankan Under-15 Team Sent Back From Chennai Citing Security Reasons)
Mithali, who has played 8 Tests in which she has scored 572 runs with 214 as her highest individual score, said the team had an experienced medium pace attack in Jhulan, Niranjana Nagarajan and Shubhlakshmi Sharma and two good spinners in Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Ekta Bisht.
The squad: Mithali Raj (Captain), Karuna Jain (Vice-Captain), Smriti Mandhana, M D Thirushkamini, Punam Raut, Harmanpreet Kaur, Jhulan Goswami, Niranjana N, Shubhlakshmi Sharma, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Ekta Bisht, Poonam Yadav, Swagathika Rath, Vanitha V R, Sushma Verma.