The cricket team was hosted along with the men’s and women’s hockey teams and some other participants like sprinter Hima Das at the University of Birmingham Commonwealth Games Village on the evening of August 4.
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games has five designated Athletes Villages, including one in London. The Indian cricket team, like all other cricket teams, is staying at one of them: Park Regis, a hotel in Birmingham.
As a result, they are unable to soak in the colour, vibe, and fun that one typically associates with life at an athletes’ village at a multi-sport event like the Commonwealth Games and are, by and large, missing out on the opportunity to mix and interact with athletes from other sports residing in the facility, the IOA explained its reason for hosting the cricket team.
"Given women’s cricket is making its debut at the ongoing Birmingham Commonwealth Games, the IOA, honouring the spirit of inclusivity it stands for, invited the Indian cricket team for an interaction session with the men’s and women’s hockey sides, para swimmer Niranjan Mukundan, and Team India’s Chef de Mission Rajesh Bhandari and General Team Manager Maninder Pal Singh," the IOA informed.
At the start of the evening, Bhandari felicitated Manpreet Singh, Savita Punia, and Harmanpreet Kaur, the captains of the three teams, as well as Ramesh Powar, head coach of the Indian women’s cricket team.
Sprinter Hima Das joined them later in the evening, and dinner at the dining hall of the University of Birmingham Athletes Village followed.
The cricketers then spoke to Indian hockey team goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and Manpreet Singh, both senior players of the hockey side, about handling pressure in crunch situations, and with Mukundan, too.
The Indian cricket team rounded off the evening with a visit to the Entertainment Zone in the Village, where they played table tennis, watched long jumper Murali Sreeshankar clinch silver on television, and later shook a leg with some of their hockey counterparts.
On the occasion, IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta said, "The IOA and Commonwealth Games Association (CGA) is delighted to call the Indian women’s cricket team a part of our family. This team, and women’s cricket in India, is on the rise and it reflects in the popularity the women’s team enjoys among the followers of the game. We welcome them to the Commonwealth Games set-up and hope they enjoyed their time in the Athletes Village ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games cricket semifinals. We wish them the best for the knockouts."
Said IOA Acting President Anil Khanna:, "We, at the IOA and CGA, are committed to ensuring that every new athlete that plays for India under our banners feels welcome. With women’s cricket making its inaugural appearance at the Commonwealth Games, it was incumbent upon us to give our women cricketers a feel of the Athletes Village because, in a way, all cricket teams are missing out on that one element as they are staying at a hotel. We are glad they were able to make time and interact with our hockey players, para swimmer Niranjan, Hima Das, and had dinner with them."
Team India Chef de Mission Rajesh Bhandari noted the camaraderie blossom among the athletes. "I was delighted to see the camaraderie blossom among the athletes in a such short time. Many of our hockey players even shook a leg with our cricketers in the Entertainment Zone, so it was nice to see them get along with each other so well. Our women cricketers are now part of the CGA family, so it was only fair we facilitated this visit and let them interact with some of the other athletes within the Athletes Village set-up."