Mumbai, Dec 5 (IANS): As the Indian women's cricket team gets ready for a hectic 18 to 20 months ahead with two back-to-back series against England and Australia and two World Cups -- the T20I World Cup in Bangladesh and the ODI version at home in 2025, newly-appointed head-coach Amol Muzumdar has picked players fitness and fielding as two aspects to focus on.
Muzumdar added that the team will have three fitness tests every year during his tenure.
These two aspects of the game have proved as the Achilles heel of the team as they have repeatedly fallen short against the top teams and in ICC tournaments.
With the players set to feature in the second edition of the Women's Premier League after the multi-format series against England and Australia, fitness will be a major issue for them in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup in the middle of 2024.
With such challenging outings up ahead, Muzumdar has picked up two areas to focus on as the team has been found lagging in two aspects. Muzumdar said he had highlighted players' fitness and fielding as the two aspects of the game and is planning to implement it rigorously and religiously.
"Fielding and fitness are of the highest priority, which I've already mentioned. There's no compromise on fielding and fitness. So that's one. The second part, I feel, you know, then there will be a lot of camps that will be happening post this series and getting into the next season as well. So there will be a lot of cricket that will be played either at NCA or somewhere or the other," said Muzumdar in his first press conference as Head Coach on the eve of the first T20I match against England at the Wankhese Stadium here on Wednesday.
The 49-year-old coach has decided to implement the fitness programme already in force more religiously.
"They (fitness parameters) have already been set, and we have already had some tests which were done at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore, and they are already in place and we follow it very rigorously and religiously, going forward. So there will be pre-series tests and post-series tests, there will be three tests in the season. So that's already been followed. And as I said it will be followed rigorously going forward," said the former Mumbai batsman, a stalwart in domestic cricket.
Muzumdar said he would also like to give opportunities to the fringe players to make a mark. "So I think more exposure and improvement in fitness and fielding will be my top priority. So, all in all, the players, the fringe players, the new generation that is coming through also will get an equal opportunity. These are some prime things which I feel like they definitely will need. I will take it forward after this series," said Muzumdar.
In the T20I series against England, Muzumdar will have two new faces in spinners Shreyanka Patil and Saika Ishaque, who are expecting to make their debuts. He is also likely to give more opportunities to young pacer Titas Sadhu, who made her debut against Bangladesh a few months back.