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SYDNEY: The void left by legends such as Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami is not easy to fill, India captain Harmanpreet Kaur conceded on Monday but also asserted that her young side has grown substantially to be a top contender for this month’s women’s T20 World Cup. Mithali retired from T20 cricket last year while Goswami previously played in the format before the 2018 edition. The average age of India’s squad in Australia is 22.8 with Harmanpreet being among the seasoned ones.

“We already miss the experience they share with us, but these young girls and showing their talent and ability,” said the 29-year-old, while speaking at the captains’ media day at Taronga Zoo here.

The ICC Women’s T20 World Cup will open with a mouth-watering clash between India and defending champions and hosts Australia in Adelaide on February 21. “In the last two years…I’ve gone from being the youngest one to one of the oldest in the team,” she said. “They (her teammates) never show us that they’re young, they can always do what we expect of them. The team is looking in really good shape and showing what they can do with extra responsibility,” she added.

She is still not over the disappointment of missing the ODI world title in 2017 and Harmanpreet said the T20 World Cup trophy would go a long way in making up for that debacle. India women came tantalisingly close to winning the ICC ODI World Cup three years back, losing to hosts England by nine runs in the final.

“Our team is growing day by day, everyone is looking so positive,” Harmanpreet said. “It’s going to be very big if we win, I was very surprised at all the reaction from 2017. My parents didn’t tell me, they didn’t want us to feel the pressure. If we win, it’s going to be very big for us. We will try to give our best.”

Harmanpreet is well aware of what a long run in an ICC tournament can do for her country.

“Over the last two years, we have already had a few games as part of the Women’s T20 Challenge and this year we are looking forward to more,” said the aggressive batter, who became the first Indian cricketer to join an overseas league by signing up with Women’s Big Bash League side Sydney Thunder in 2016. “If we win the World Cup, there’s no doubt things will change. That tournament would bring a lot of confidence to the girls.

“If we get a women’s IPL that will be really good for us. If we win the World Cup, it’s going to be very big for us as a team, so we will try to give our best,” she said. PTI