The truth behind the numbers Read more
It is fair to say, however, that India have not got a good grip on the ground when it comes to managing women. Since the national team is set to take on Sri Lanka at the Champions Trophy for the first time in eight years on Thursday, a few women must make do with a pitch that is half as big as the one used in England’s 2015 tournament. The Indian team have made a commitment to the Under-19 cricket world cup in Australia, which was hosted in 2015, and it can only help them if the pitch is also good enough for it. A few matches have been played without it, but when it comes to the Indian team, it is a game on which the country must win.
“The pitch is certainly not as good as some of the other pitches out there, but the players are very committed and the bowlers are very diligent,” said Harmanpreet Kaur. “They want to work hard, and they want us to work hard, so it’s good.”
The ground in Pune is a concrete block of red sand. There is little natural grass, and the players need to walk about 10 minutes to their training area, about 50 yards from the ground.
“I used to work on a wooden mat a little bit and it’s not ideal for the players. It’s the same ground [in India], but it’s a lot more difficult, a much better surface and I think the players take it in their stride,” said Sanjay Shetty with a grin. “The ball lands on the pitch in perfect rhythm so it’s a very good surface for the batsmen to bowl on.”
The women’s game was born from a tournament between India and Pakistan in 1991, so even though the surface has changed, it has remained the same. The difference in the pitch is a big deal, as the women can take two off the front foot and bat from a more comfortable height. It makes things very fast. It also helps the bowlers make them look silly.
“If I’m bowling to someone like Moksha, there is no way she is going to bat from a lower position,” Shetty said. “If I’m a better bowler, I can bowl from a higher position. And that also helps us as a team.”
For the men, it could be a different story though. It is still very, very tough on the pitch for their wicket keepers. That