Women's World Cup 2017

World Cup win can revolutionise women’s cricket in India, says captain Mithali Raj

With intense preparation, winning momentum and confidence, Raj will lead India’s campaign at the women’s World Cup on the front foot.

In the final of the Quadrangular Series in May, Africa, India women beat hosts South Africa by eight wickets, a comprehensive win. Just five days earlier, India had lost by eight runs to the same team, narrowly missing out in the big chase of 270. To bounce back from that, and beat the a traditionally stronger team on their home turf a month before the World Cup was a huge morale boost for the Women in Blue.

“The South Africa series win made a huge difference to the team, especially the young players like Deepti Sharma and Punam Raut to be among runs,” India’s captain Mithali Raj said a day before the team left for England ahead of the ICC Women’s World Cup.

“It sorted a lot of issues as a captain because India has always struggled with the opening pair,” she explained. “In that series, and in the World Cup qualifiers before that, we got very good starts. The last two series saw the openers do their bit and give us the right kind of a start, posting a total or chasing a huge total like 270. South Africa is a side that has good bowling attack and beating them at home is exceptional by the team. I am confident that they will continue that into the World Cup,” Raj told reporters in Mumbai on Saturday.

Raj’s confidence is founded in the exceptional effort by India in the record-breaking series in South Africa. Veteran fast bowler Jhulan Goswami broke the record for the highest wicket-taker in ODIs, openers Sharma and Raut shared a world record 320-run opening stand,.Sharma scored a whopping 188 runs in that innings, the second highest score in women’s One-day International history and Raj became only the third player to lead in 100 women’s ODIs.

Ahead of the World Cup, the team had a preparatory camp in their last week in India and will have one more once they reach Derbyshire. They will train at Loughborough MCC University and play a practice match against England women before playing two more against New Zealand (June 19) and Sri Lanka (June 21) in Derby where they will be based. The event will be held across England and Wales from June 24 to July 23. On the back of such performances and preparation, it’s hard not to be optimistic about their chances.

The closest India have come at the 50-over event is when they finished as runners-up in 2005. But this is a vastly different team. Today, women’s cricket in the country receives far more attention and support than it did in 2005 and a World Cup win will be big shot in the arm.

“We definitely want to win the World Cup, it will be a revolution for Indian women’s cricket here and it gives the impetus to young girls who want to take the sport. It is a great platform to showcase the brand of cricket the girls have been playing in the past couple of years,” Raj said.

But she also maintained that pacing themselves is important. “Having said that, since the format is different in this edition, it’s a league cum knockout, so it’s a long tour and I want the girls to take it one match a time. Our first step definitely would be to get into the semis,” she said.

The 34-year-old batter, along with Goswami, are the most experienced players in the team, and will shoulder most of the expectation, and pressure. With the matches being televised this year, a chunk of the country’s cricket loving population might be tuning in to watch the women perform at the highest level. How does Raj use this experience to mentor the younger players and deal with expectations?

“We share our experiences with the players. There are few senior players who are aware of the expectations and the pressure one faces during a World Cup. There are first timers who are playing the World Cup. As senior players we can always be around them and give them a cushion and we can take up some of the pressure they face,” she said.

But lately, there has been a crop of consistent match-winners emerging for India, as their coach Tushar Arothe pointed out. “While Mithali and Jhulan are seniors, the other players like Harmanpreet [Kaur], Deepti, Shikha [Pandey] are also contributing. So the pressure is not only on these two as all the girls are chipping in,” he said.

Another trump card that India have is the exposure players like Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana got at the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia earlier this season. “Big Bash is a T20 format so can’t really compare but playing with players from other countries, you exchange ideas and observe how they prepare and get to read their game closely. That gives you a lot of feedback and that’s what the girls who have been to BBL get to the table,” Raj said.

But India’s World Cup squad is not without challenges. For one, there are only three pacers in the squad. The middle order and lower middle order have not been in as good a touch as the top order.

Raj is seeing the bright side of things. “Honestly everybody prefers to have extra fast bowlers in the side. But India have always banked on spinners, irrespective of the wicket. Whether in Australia, South Africa (or elsewhere), spinners have done exceptionally well,” she said.

About the lower-middle order, she said that they have worked on it during the training camp. “Every team has a couple of players who cannot bat that much, they are pure bowlers. So most of the times the lower middle order has to do the job. But our bowlers have worked very hard with the coaches at the preparatory camps we have made sure that they are batting everyday so that when the situation arises, they are capable of pulling the team through.”

Armed with this preparation, the winning momentum and confidence, Mithali Raj will lead India’s campaign at the women’s World Cup on the front foot.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

India’s urban water crisis calls for an integrated approach

We need solutions that address different aspects of the water eco-system and involve the collective participation of citizens and other stake-holders.

According to a UN report, around 1.2 billion people, or almost one fifth of the world’s population, live in areas where water is physically scarce and another 1.6 billion people, or nearly one quarter of the world’s population, face economic water shortage. They lack basic access to water. The criticality of the water situation across the world has in fact given rise to speculations over water wars becoming a distinct possibility in the future. In India the problem is compounded, given the rising population and urbanization. The Asian Development Bank has forecast that by 2030, India will have a water deficit of 50%.

Water challenges in urban India

For urban India, the situation is critical. In 2015, about 377 million Indians lived in urban areas and by 2030, the urban population is expected to rise to 590 million. Already, according to the National Sample Survey, only 47% of urban households have individual water connections and about 40% to 50% of water is reportedly lost in distribution systems due to various reasons. Further, as per the 2011 census, only 32.7% of urban Indian households are connected to a piped sewerage system.

Any comprehensive solution to address the water problem in urban India needs to take into account the specific challenges around water management and distribution:

Pressure on water sources: Rising demand on water means rising pressure on water sources, especially in cities. In a city like Mumbai for example, 3,750 Million Litres per Day (MLD) of water, including water for commercial and industrial use, is available, whereas 4,500 MLD is needed. The primary sources of water for cities like Mumbai are lakes created by dams across rivers near the city. Distributing the available water means providing 386,971 connections to the city’s roughly 13 million residents. When distribution becomes challenging, the workaround is to tap ground water. According to a study by the Centre for Science and Environment, 48% of urban water supply in India comes from ground water. Ground water exploitation for commercial and domestic use in most cities is leading to reduction in ground water level.

Distribution and water loss issues: Distribution challenges, such as water loss due to theft, pilferage, leaky pipes and faulty meter readings, result in unequal and unregulated distribution of water. In New Delhi, for example, water distribution loss was reported to be about 40% as per a study. In Mumbai, where most residents get only 2-5 hours of water supply per day, the non-revenue water loss is about 27% of the overall water supply. This strains the municipal body’s budget and impacts the improvement of distribution infrastructure. Factors such as difficult terrain and legal issues over buildings also affect water supply to many parts. According to a study, only 5% of piped water reaches slum areas in 42 Indian cities, including New Delhi. A 2011 study also found that 95% of households in slum areas in Mumbai’s Kaula Bunder district, in some seasons, use less than the WHO-recommended minimum of 50 litres per capita per day.

Water pollution and contamination: In India, almost 400,000 children die every year of diarrhea, primarily due to contaminated water. According to a 2017 report, 630 million people in the South East Asian countries, including India, use faeces-contaminated drinking water source, becoming susceptible to a range of diseases. Industrial waste is also a major cause for water contamination, particularly antibiotic ingredients released into rivers and soils by pharma companies. A Guardian report talks about pollution from drug companies, particularly those in India and China, resulting in the creation of drug-resistant superbugs. The report cites a study which indicates that by 2050, the total death toll worldwide due to infection by drug resistant bacteria could reach 10 million people.

A holistic approach to tackling water challenges

Addressing these challenges and improving access to clean water for all needs a combination of short-term and medium-term solutions. It also means involving the community and various stakeholders in implementing the solutions. This is the crux of the recommendations put forth by BASF.

The proposed solutions, based on a study of water issues in cities such as Mumbai, take into account different aspects of water management and distribution. Backed by a close understanding of the cost implications, they can make a difference in tackling urban water challenges. These solutions include:

Recycling and harvesting: Raw sewage water which is dumped into oceans damages the coastal eco-system. Instead, this could be used as a cheaper alternative to fresh water for industrial purposes. According to a 2011 World Bank report, 13% of total freshwater withdrawal in India is for industrial use. What’s more, the industrial demand for water is expected to grow at a rate of 4.2% per year till 2025. Much of this demand can be met by recycling and treating sewage water. In Mumbai for example, 3000 MLD of sewage water is released, almost 80% of fresh water availability. This can be purified and utilised for industrial needs. An example of recycled sewage water being used for industrial purpose is the 30 MLD waste water treatment facility at Gandhinagar and Anjar in Gujarat set up by Welspun India Ltd.

Another example is the proposal by Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) to recycle and reclaim sewage water treated at its existing facilities to meet the secondary purposes of both industries and residential complexes. In fact, residential complexes can similarly recycle and re-use their waste water for secondary purposes such as gardening.

Also, alternative rain water harvesting methods such as harvesting rain water from concrete surfaces using porous concrete can be used to supplement roof-top rain water harvesting, to help replenish ground water.

Community initiatives to supplement regular water supply: Initiatives such as community water storage and decentralised treatment facilities, including elevated water towers or reservoirs and water ATMs, based on a realistic understanding of the costs involved, can help support the city’s water distribution. Water towers or elevated reservoirs with onsite filters can also help optimise the space available for water distribution in congested cities. Water ATMs, which are automated water dispensing units that can be accessed with a smart card or an app, can ensure metered supply of safe water.

Testing and purification: With water contamination being a big challenge, the adoption of affordable and reliable multi-household water filter systems which are electricity free and easy to use can help, to some extent, access to safe drinking water at a domestic level. Also, the use of household water testing kits and the installation of water quality sensors on pipes, that send out alerts on water contamination, can create awareness of water contamination and drive suitable preventive steps.

Public awareness and use of technology: Public awareness campaigns, tax incentives for water conservation and the use of technology interfaces can also go a long way in addressing the water problem. For example, measures such as water credits can be introduced with tax benefits as incentives for efficient use and recycling of water. Similarly, government water apps, like that of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, can be used to spread tips on water saving, report leakage or send updates on water quality.

Collaborative approach: Finally, a collaborative approach like the adoption of a public-private partnership model for water projects can help. There are already examples of best practices here. For example, in Netherlands, water companies are incorporated as private companies, with the local and national governments being majority shareholders. Involving citizens through social business models for decentralised water supply, treatment or storage installations like water ATMs, as also the appointment of water guardians who can report on various aspects of water supply and usage can help in efficient water management. Grass-root level organizations could be partnered with for programmes to spread awareness on water safety and conservation.

For BASF, the proposed solutions are an extension of their close engagement with developing water management and water treatment solutions. The products developed specially for waste and drinking water treatment, such as Zetag® ULTRA and Magnafloc® LT, focus on ensuring sustainability, efficiency and cost effectiveness in the water and sludge treatment process.

BASF is also associated with operations of Reliance Industries’ desalination plant at Jamnagar in Gujarat.The thermal plant is designed to deliver up to 170,000 cubic meters of processed water per day. The use of inge® ultrafiltration technologies allows a continuous delivery of pre-filtered water at a consistent high-quality level, while the dosage of the Sokalan® PM 15 I protects the desalination plant from scaling. This combination of BASF’s expertise minimises the energy footprint of the plant and secures water supply independent of the seasonal fluctuations. To know more about BASF’s range of sustainable solutions and innovative chemical products for the water industry, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of BASF and not by the Scroll editorial team.