Taking 20 wickets will be our target: India skipper Mithali Raj ahead of pink-ball Test

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103 days after a fighting performance that ended up in a draw against England at the Bristol County Ground, India will play their second Test match of the year against Australia at the Carrara Oval. India’s first-ever pink-ball Test will bring new challenges, and although they don’t have the experience of playing in the conditions, captain Mithali Raj believes that her side is confident of taking the 20 Australian wickets needed for the result.

Speaking to media ahead of the historic day/night Test on Wednesday (September 29), Raj said, “Test is little different, but it gives an equal opportunity to seamers, spinners, and also to batters to go out there and spend some time on these wickets and see how the match goes. You can’t really say from the outside that we are going to score heavily or we are going to take 20 wickets, but we are confident, and that would be our target. If we are going for the result, we have to get 20 wickets.”

She reflected on the challenges of the pink ball as it will be the first time she is playing a pink-ball Test. “Whatever little I have faced in the nets, it does seam quite a bit. I am sure it will help our seamers as well. As a ball gets older, I don’t know if it will help the seamers or the spinners. That, only time will say.”

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One of India’s biggest worries leading into the multi-format series against Australia was to find a new-ball partner to Jhulan Goswami in ODIs and the Test. Raj said the performance of pacers Meghna Singh and Pooja Vastrakar in the ODI series was satisfying. They also have an experienced seamer in Shikha Pandey.

“We are very pleased with the way fast bowlers have performed in the ODI series, Jhulan of course being the experienced one. She has been helping the other bowlers. We do have some very good quality seamers in Meghna and Pooja. We also have Shikha Pandey in the squad, who is experienced. I think it’s a good pace department we have right now.”

Raj also shared her first impressions of the pink ball on the eve of the Test match as she admitted to the lack of experience with it. “The first session we had with the pink ball was yesterday and it was a different experience for everybody. We are not used to the pink ball. It does move quite a bit.”

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The absence of a left-arm spinner was felt during the one-off Test against England. India had preferred two off-spinners in Sneh Rana and Deepti Sharma. The selection dilemma continues for the Test against Australia as Raj said the Indian team management will take a final call about the playing XI on the morning of the match.

“(In England) we felt the need of taking wickets. We needed bowlers who can fetch us wickets and that is why we went with two off-spinners. There is a little selection conundrum here as well. Whether to go with seamers spin dominant attack. That is something we will take a call on tomorrow.”

The pink-ball Test will be played on a drop-in pitch at the Carrara Oval with a fair amount of grass cover, and Raj said that it is tempting for India to go with a pace-heavy attack. “There is a fair amount of grass on the wicket. Yes, it is the drop-in wicket. So, it will be the first time for us to play on a drop-in wicket. We are yet to decide the composition of the team, but looking at the wicket everybody would like to go with a lot many seamers in the side.”

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