Mumbai, Jan 23: The Indian women's cricket captain Harmanpreet Kaur on Thursday (January 23) said handling pressure would be crucial in the upcoming ICC Women's T20 World Cup in Australia, something that her side couldn't do in the last two global showpieces.
She was speaking to reporters at the pre-departure press conference ahead of the tri-series involving England and hosts Australia, which will be followed by the T20 World Cup next month. India made a semi-final exit from the last T20 World Cup and in the previous ODI World Cup, they had finished as runners-up.
"We were quite close in the last two World Cups, the only thing is we have to keep in mind how to handle pressure in the tournaments, last two World Cups we lacked in handling pressure," Harmanpreet said.
"This time we want to enjoy rather than taking more pressure on ourselves, thinking that it is a big tournament. We have to avoid thinking like that and focus on giving our best," she added.
The women's T20 World Cup will be played in Australia from February 21 to March 8. India will take on Australia, Bangladesh, New Zealand and Sri Lanka in the Group stage. The 30-year-old Harmanpreet, who has played 104 T20s, said the team needs to focus on enhancing skills instead of thinking about the pressure of being at a big stage.
"Last few World Cups, we put ourselves under too much pressure of playing in a big tournament. This time rather thinking that we are going for a big tournament, we just want to focus on our skills, how we should play and how to make the team win," she said.
"That will be very important for us and when we focus on these things, we (will) produce better results," she added. She counted spin bowling as one of the strengths of her team. "...they always give us breakthroughs. So I am looking forward to how our spinners perform there (in Australia) and see what they do for the team," said the skipper.
India will, in all likelihood, open with the experienced Smriti Mandhana and young Shafali Verma and according to Harmanpreet, the duo will have a crucial role to play.
"They both (Smriti and Shafali) are very important for the team and they always give their best...the first six overs are going to be important for us. "Good start is important for the team and whenever they get a good start, we never look back. They both have very big role to play," she said.
Asked what will be her message for new players like Shafali and the 16-year-old Richa Ghosh, Harmanpreet said they would be encouraged to play their natural game.
"...don't take any pressure because if we play freely without any pressure, you will give your 100 per cent. There are some players, who like to take pressure and play," she said.
"So, for me it is very important to understand how their good game comes up. We have the tri-series before the World Cup, that is going to be an advantage and how they perform in it, we will plan accordingly," she said.
On a personal note, Harmanpreet did not have a good 2019 but she has a positive feeling about 2020.
"I am feeling very positive right now and very excited to see how I play in the World Cup. Performance is something that will never happen 100 per cent because things don't go in your favour always and you have to accept all those things," she said. "But I am really positive and excited," she added.