Dubai: Ahead of the Women's T20 Cup opening match between India and Australia, Mithali Raj has said that Australia would go in as favourites due to their record in the shortest format.
"Both teams have exciting players, particularly in the batting units, and it will be a case of whoever can score the runs that their country needs on the day. Australia go in as favourites, but India will be no pushover. They have some very talented players and I think it will be a very close, high-scoring game," International Cricket Council (ICC) quoted Raj as saying.
"I do think Australia has the advantage because of their T20 record and have a slightly better chance of winning the first game against India but no matter what, it's going to be a very exciting way to open the tournament," she added.
The 37-year-old Raj also said that there are many followers of women's cricket in India. She also revealed a time when nobody knew that she had broken a record in 2002.
"Lot has changed since I was playing in the ICC Women's T20 World Cup. The biggest difference is people are now aware of what's going on with their national team. When I broke the world record for the highest individual Test score in 2002, people didn't know about it unless they were going out to buy the newspapers," Raj said.
"But now, it's seen by everyone all over television and on social media - a lot has changed not only in how people get their news but their desire for women's cricket," she added.
Raj also expressed her happiness on witnessing a nation like Thailand, getting a chance to play the World Cup. She reckons that this will make the sport more accessible in other countries.
"I am curious to see how Thailand fare against the big sides in their first ICC tournament. Women's cricket has come of age getting a team like Thailand in to play the top nations," Raj said.
"This tournament will reach out to non-cricketing nations because of Thailand. They do not have a huge cricket culture there, but having a team playing at an ICC tournament will help people in Thailand become interested in the World Cup and countries who have never been into a team sport like cricket will be inspired by their journey," she added.
The Women's T20 World Cup will be played from February 21-March 8.
India will take on Australia in the opening match.