With the Indian women's cricket team starting its campaign on Friday in the Women's World T20 in West Indies, a title they have not won in their previous five attempts, India-born Lisa Sthalekar, the former captain of Australia's international women's cricket team spoke to Erick Massey about women's cricket in India and which team has highest chances of clinching the coveted title.
What are the chances for the Indian eves at the Women’s World T20 in West Indies?
The pitch in Guyana on which India will be playing their pool matches, is likely to be slow and turning, which means the conditions might suit India.
I think once any team gets through to the semi-finals, anything can happen. Though India certainly have a chance, they are up against, Australia, West Indies, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Ireland in their pool.
Who is your favourite player and team in the upcoming women’s world T20 in West Indies?
I think that the Australian team have unlocked a winning formula in the shortest format, so they are certainly the frontrunners for me.
But as I mentioned before, in this format if you aren't switched on, you can be beaten by any of the top-6 nations. Plus conditions in Guyana will be challenging, and whoever adapts the quickest will certainly meet success.
India are placed with Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and Ireland -- a difficult group to start the campaign. What do you think the outcome will be?
Hard to predict, given the nature of the shortest format. When you add previous winners, West Indies in the mix there, I think that it is the stronger pool of the two.
Who, according to you, is the most promising player in the Indian side?
I think the star of the Indian side is Smriti Mandhana, but in terms of the most promising player, a lot of people have spoken about Jemimah Rodrigues and I like the look of Pooja Vastrakar, who is a great all-rounder.
Would Jhulan Goswami’s absence be a big factor in West Indies?
Certainly, a player with that much experience will always be missed, but the exciting thing is that it opens the door for younger players to stake a claim to become India's next frontline bowlers.
With terrific results against Sri Lanka in the T20 series, do you think Harmanpreet Kaur would live up to expectations as a skipper?
For Harmanpreet to live up to the expectations placed on her, she really needs to be consistent against the top sides. During this World T20, she has the opportunity to be one of the most destructive batters.
Mithali Raj holds ample experience in the Indian side. What would her role be with the young team?
Without a doubt, she can play an important part in assisting and playing a senior role within this side. She has been a consistent performer in international cricket. Plus, on the field her role is simple -- to score plenty of runs at a very quick rate. If she is able to do that, I have no doubt that players around her will feed off her confidence and play with greater freedom.
Do you think women’s cricket has received a push in recent times?
I think the performance of the Indian side in the last year's World Cup, where they made it to the finals and then lost, prompted the nation to stand up and pay attention to this impressive side.
Since then, all the players have been celebrated and this World T20 in West Indies is another opportunity to grab the country's attention.
Do you think more T20s would help the cause of women’s cricket?
The best way to sustain the momentum is to ensure that there is a strong domestic structure, allowing a larger pool of cricketers to play a lot more competitive matches. Plus, broadcast as many matches as well. This way, the general public starts becoming aware of the players and educates young girls about the avenues for them to play cricket, and maybe one day represent their country.
I am a huge believer that women's cricket needs to keep playing more one day cricket, with the T20 game allowing them to apply the skills they have mastered in the longer format.
How do you think Indian Women’s team has progressed after succumbing under pressure in last year’s World Cup final against England?
With the new coach in place already speaking about putting players under pressure during training and in the matches they played against Aus A, they are certainly aware that it (succumbing to pressure) was the issue against England.
I guess we will only be sure they have found answers if they find themselves in a similar situation and are able get out of it.
How does it feel to be back in India where you were born and then won a world cup in your native country in 2013 for Australia?
I love visiting India whenever I get an opportunity. It is a place that has such fond memories for me as I use to travel here to spend time with my grandmother during my school holidays. I was also able to create new memories from a cricket standpoint, when I won the World Cup. The win helped me retire and settle down in a place that meant a lot to me.
Australian cricket’s image has suffered after the recent ball-tampering case in the men's event. What do you think about it?
It hasn't been a great time for the Australia Men's cricket team and, in turn, Cricket Australia. While those events that took place in Cape Town shocked, disappointed and angered me, it is time to focus on this new-look side and give them all the support we can.