Sydney, Feb 22: India's demolition of a formidable Australia in the Women's T20 World Cup opener will give them a huge boost going forward, said star batswoman Mithali Raj, who also lauded leggie, Poonam Yadav, for her magical performance. Poonam took four for 19 to help India complete a 17-run victory against defending champions Australia on Friday (February 22).
"Everyone has been talking about how much batting depth Australia have, yet they couldn't chase 132," Raj, a former India Test and ODI captain, said in an ICC release.
"India will take so much confidence from that victory, but this World Cup is still very open. The match between Australia and India proved how competitive the tournament will be. It proves it does not matter where you stand in the ICC rankings.
"We will be seeing more of the same drama yet. This victory proves every team has a chance," said Raj, who has retired from T20 cricket. The 37-year-old veteran batswoman said, "the opening match definitely lived up to the hype of the tournament".
"It was a whirlwind. There were so many ups and downs. It was a great start to the tournament not only because India beat the defending champions on home soil, but also because of how the game progressed altogether.
"At no point could you say it was going in one side's favour. First we saw our early wickets fall, then we recovered and Australia had to chase 132 before their middle-order collapsed. India and Australia both took the game their own way at different points which made it fascinating for spectators to watch."
Raj said Poonam's spell was the turning point.
"She's been one of the main spinners for India for quite some time now, and her style worked again. Getting their (Australia's) middle-order out really titled the match towards India, she was brilliant.
"Although we recovered our innings through Deepti Sharma and her partnership with Jemimah Rodrigues, it was Poonam's flurry of wickets against Australia's megastars, which completely changed the game," Raj said.
Raj also praised 16-year-old Shafali Verma for scoring 29 off 15 on her World Cup debut.
"Shafali Verma impressed me too on her debut. She gave India's middle order the cushioning they needed to regain momentum. Verma has stuck with stroke play that she demonstrated in the tri-series," she said.
"I think she should be given that free range in the first six overs because when you're playing a top team, the runs in the first six overs are so important. It was great to be 40 up after just a few overs thanks to her contribution - Australia couldn't replicate that."