Flamboyant opener Smriti Mandhana should be handed over India captaincy after the upcoming Women's World Cup, regardless of the result in the mega event, the team's former coach WV Raman said on Tuesday.
Mandhana, 25, has evolved into one of the team's key players since making her international debut in 2013.
"Captaincy has got nothing to do with age but I am convinced that Mandhana can be the captain. She is a good reader of the game and has already played few years of cricket. It can be a good time and giving captaincy to a younger cricketer means they can lead the side for a stretch for some years," Raman told PTI in a virtual interaction.
"But this is not the right time for handing over captaincy because of the upcoming World Cup. So just to hold on to whatever is happening in recent past and perhaps, after the World Cup, regardless of the results, I think the captaincy can be handed over to Smriti Mandhana," he added.
Currently, 38-year-old veteran Mithali Raj is the captain of the India's Test and ODI side while Harmanpreet Kaur, 32, is in charge of the T20I team.
Mandhana will enter the three-match T20 International series against Australia on a high, having scored a magnificent maiden hundred in the one-off day/night Test against the hosts.
Raman guided India to the T20 World Cup final last year before the world went into the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Raman was however replaced as coach by Ramesh Powar earlier this year.
He also remained hopeful about the emergence of a good crop of fast bowlers in women's cricket, with Jhulan Goswami in the winter of her career and people like Meghna Singh bursting onto the scene with much promise.
"We need to develop a programme for fast bowlers. In fact, I had a discussion with Rahul Dravid earlier on this. We were planning to start a programme wherein three fast bowling coaches would watch matches and identify talent.
"But when it was just going to be implemented, the pandemic set in and everything went into lockdown. "It's good to see a Pooja Vastrakar backing Jhulan in building up the pressure. Meghna Singh is also there.
"I am sure Dravid will carry forward the programme in the future. If it is done in the manner we have planned, in three years we might see a few fast bowlers emerging," Raman said.
The former coach believed India seemed to be preparing well for the World Cup given their recent showings in England and Australia. The ODI World Cup is scheduled to be held in New Zealand in March-April next year.
"Going by recent form and based on matches in England and Australia, they seemed to be gearing up well for World Cup. They have got two good additions in Meghna Singh and Sneh Rana who are capable of handling pressure, which is so important when you embark on major assignment like the World Cup.
"They have taken to international cricket like duck takes to water. They will provide the kind of security the team management looks forward to. Shikha Pandey is also providing support to Jhulan Goswami. Even Shikha Bhatia has grabbed her opportunity.
Newcomers delivering straightaway is a great sign."
Unlike a few others in the fraternity, Raman is not keen on the game's governing body making women's Test a five-day affair, for which calls were made after the India-Australia day/night game ended in a draw after a significant part of it was lost to inclement weather.
"We will have to see whether that change is needed. The difference (from overs bowled in a day in men's Test) is 50 overs only because here they are playing 100 overs per day. Lets not be hasty and give it some time," Raman said.
Asked about one player who could make the difference in the T20Is against Australia, he named the swashbuckling Shafali Verma.
"Shafali will play a big role because she can collar the attack and take away the game from the opponents, she has the aura and moreover, Australia are not the best of chasers in T20 cricket."
Asked about Jemimah Rodrigues, who hasn't been having the best of time with the national team but has impressed in the Hundred, Raman is banking on the bouncy Australian pitches to support her game.
"There is a little bit of confusion in her mind as what she needs to do. In One-dayers we are making her open which is not her natural thing. I have no qualms in admitting that she opened in my time also in a few matches but that was because we wanted to play her in the XI.
"The emergence of Shafali may have also created a feeling that she could be overlooked. And because of the lack of runs, few they technical issues may have cropped up. But she can do well in the T20Is in Australia as the bounce will facilitate her game," Raman said.