Mithali insists on playing warm-up games during S.Africa tour

Mumbai, Jan 24: Contrary to the men's cricket team that decided against playing any warm-up fixtures in the run-up to the ongoing Test rubber against South Africa, the Indian women team skipper Mithali Raj on Tuesday insisted on playing a few practice games ahead of the limited overs series against the South African women. The women's squad will tour South Africa for a three-match ODI series, which starts at Kimberly on February 5, followed by a five-match T20 series beginning on February 13 at Potchefstroom. The team will fly on Thursday. Asked whether going early to South Africa will help, Mithali said: "We had (also) gone early for the World Cup in England (last year) to get acclimatised." "It helps (because) we try and organise practice games...get used to the bounce, because normally you don't get to see that bounce in sub-continental wickets and the lateral movement which we are probably expecting, because this time we are playing with two new balls," she told reporters. "This is our first international tournament where we will be playing with two new balls. So it is important, we are going early so that we get used to these conditions," the 35-year-old batswoman added. Conceding that the tour won't be easy for her team, Mithali urged her girls to start fresh during the tour. "I would tell the young girls to start fresh, it is an important tour and it is not going to be easy, because we have played South Africa before, we have toured South Africa for the quadrangular series. "The South Africa team is a very good side and we have seen in the World Cup, they almost made it to the finals, so it's going to be competitive cricket and it will test each and every player," she said. The women's team coach Tushar Arothe also pointed out at the importance of getting used to the conditions ahead of the crucial rubber. "We need to get acclimatised, that is very important, and are playing a couple of practice games before the first ODI. We went to the World Cup 10 days early....which helped us," Arothe said. India will play the opening two ODIs at Kimberley on February 5 and 7 before moving to Potchefstroom for the third 50-over game on February 10.  Potchefstroom will also host the first T20I on February 13 while the second T20I will be played on February 16 in East London.  The third game will be played in Johannesburg on February 18 while the final two T20Is will be played at Centurion (February 21) and Cape Town (February 24).