Cricket at the upcoming Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 will kick off with India’s women’s team taking on Australia on Friday, July 29. For cricket eight teams have been put together in two groups comprising four teams each, and India is placed in Group A alongside Australia, Barbados, and Pakistan. The two medal matches are then finally scheduled for August 7. Ahead of departing for Birmingham, India vice-captain Smriti Mandhana addressed a virtual press conference on Friday where she spoke about the team preparation, the mood in the camp, and what it means for her to be playing in the Commonwealth Games.
“Really excited to be part of the Commonwealth Games, it is something very new for me and the whole team. We have never experienced going out there and playing a tournament where other sports are also involved. Looking forward to it and yeah, the preparation, Sri Lanka was a good tour for us, ODIs and T20Is, and also, we had a fitness camp, few girls had a fitness and skill camp, we have been working on things that individuals need so yeah, the preparation has been really good ahead of the Commonwealth and I hope the preparation will lead us to get a medal back,” said Mandhana. Talking further about her feelings about playing in the Commonwealth Games, the left-handed batter said: “Yeah, as I said we have not had the experience of playing at Commonwealth where we will be striving to win a gold medal because we all imagine us lifting the trophy. Now that, we must imagine getting on the podium and getting a medal. I think it is something new and we all are excited. It will be a new experience for us, we will enjoy and give our best.”
“All the girls are really excited; we all know the feeling as we have watched Commonwealth Games and Olympics before. When the Indian flag goes higher, we hear the national anthem, and everyone knows that feeling. We are going for a gold medal, I do not think we will look just for a podium finish because when that flag goes higher, the national anthem plays, and that is the best feeling. We got goosebumps when Neeraj Chopra won gold at Olympics, we have an opportunity to be there and do that at the Commonwealth Games. We know the groups were decided long back and we have our plans in place for Australia, Barbados, and Pakistan.” When asked if there is any athlete, she is looking forward to interacting with at The Games Village, Mandhana said: “We are not sure, as I said it is something very new and I do not know how we will be going about it. I do not know how much we will be able to interact with the athletes, but I do not have anything, I would just like to have conversations with different athletes, knowing what kind of training they do. We did that a little bit when we did a show during the lockdown, it was amazing, and we got a lot of takeaways.”
Team India squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (C), Smriti Mandhana (VC), Shafali Verma, S. Meghana, Taniyaa Sapna Bhatia (Wk), Yastika Bhatia (Wk), Deepti Sharma, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Pooja Vastrakar, Meghna Singh, Renuka Thakur, Jemimah Rodrigues, Radha Yadav, Harleen Deol, Sneh Rana.