India women’s cricket team vice-captain Smriti Mandhana has expressed that her side will not just be aiming for a podium finish at the Commonwealth Games as their main aim is to win the gold medal at the quadrennial showpiece, scheduled to begin on July 29.
Notably, Cricket is making a returing to the CWG after a long gap of 24 years, with the first women’s tournament to be played out at the multi-sport event. Eight sides will take part across 16 matches at Edgbaston, with a winner crowned and all the medals finalised on August 7.
While India are placed in Group A along with Australia, Barbados and Pakistan, Group B consists of hosts England, New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
India will play their opening game against Meg Lanning’s Australia on July 29 and will then play arch-rivals Pakistan on July 31.
“All the girls are really excited and we all know the feeling. We have all watched the Commonwealth and Olympic Games… that when the Indian flag goes up and we hear the national anthem, I think everyone knows that feeling and definitely we are aiming for gold,” said Mandhana in a video posted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
“I don’t think we’ll just look for a podium finish because when that flag goes higher and the national anthem plays, that’s the best feeling. I literally get goose-bumps when I think about (javelin star) Neeraj Chopra winning gold in the (2020 Tokyo) Olympics,” added Mandhana.
“So, definitely you know we have an opportunity to be there and try and do that, of course not in the Olympics but at the Commonwealth Games. So we all are really excited and we know the groups (opponents). The groups were decided long back so we have our plans in place for Australia, Pakistan and Barbados. Hopefully, things work the way we have planned,” she added.
Cricket has featured only once before at the Commonwealth Games — as a 16-team tournament on the men’s side — at the Kuala Lumpur Games, back in 1998.
South Africa claimed gold by beating Australia in the final, chasing down a target of 184 after Shaun Pollock’s 4/19 (9 overs). Mike Rindel top-scored with 67 (106 balls), with Jacques Kallis’ 44 ensuring victory. In the bronze-medal match, Chris Harris was crucial with both bat and ball, joint top-scoring with unbeaten 56 before taking 2/20 (7.4) in a 51-run victory.