"Fearless" young players and a multifaceted spin attack will be India's key weapons at the World T20 next month, according to head coach Ramesh Powar. India's T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur echoed Powar's thoughts.
Harmanpreet will be leading India in a world tournament for the first time in a full-time capacity. She was one of the star members of the squad that went all the way to the final of the 50-overs World Cup last year, only to crumble under pressure in the final, when victory seemed imminent.
"Luckily the youngsters are very fearless so I hope it changes the whole perception of pressure for them," Powar said, when reminded of that match at the pre-departure press conference in Mumbai.
"Our strength is spin bowling. The day we have three or four bowlers bowling well, like Poonam Yadav, Ekta Bisht, Radha Yadav, Deepti Sharma and Anuja Patil... Out of five, if three perform, I think things can go smoothly. In batting, we have experience and a young player like Jemimah [Rodrigues]. We are well-placed, I think.
"There are youngsters [in the side] who will react differently now to pressure. This team is more about dominance rather than just competing. They are looking to dominate everything, every situation. That's where the pressure will be off. We've prepared for that."
Harmanpreet, who took over the reins of the T20I side from Mithali Raj after India failed to make the knockouts of the 2016 World T20 at home, said India are better equipped to close out tight games now than they had been last year.
"We were trying to give chances to everyone," Harmanpreet said. "So before the World T20 everybody spent a lot of time on the wicket. Almost everyone got a chance. We are ready to think who is ready for a chance in the first XI or not, we can plan accordingly.
"We had not played in a World Cup final before last year except Mithali di and Jhulu di [Jhulan Goswami]. But now we do have [that experience]. Had we been able to handle our nerves the situation better, it would have been good. But we have learned from our mistakes and I hope that we won't repeat the mistakes we made the last time and if we get another chance [to play a final]."
In the eight-month lead-in to the World T20, India have failed to assert their dominance in multi-team tournaments. In March, they couldn't qualify for the final of a T20I tri-series at home, which also featured Australia and England. A bigger jolt came three months later at the Asia Cup, where they relinquished the title to Bangladesh, who beat India twice in the tournament, including the final.
A fallout between former head coach Tushar Arothe and some of the high-profile players led to Powar taking over as the full-time head coach in July. He has since had only eight international matches - three ODIs and five T20Is in an away series in Sri Lanka which India won 2-1 and 4-0 respectively - and a three-match unofficial T20I series in Mumbai against Australia A to not only familiarise himself with the players but also assess their strengths and weaknesses.
The team has also had to contend with the last-minute cancellation of a bilateral T20I series against hosts West Indies, which was to serve as a dress rehearsal for the World T20, and the shifting of the tournament preparatory camp in Mumbai, from the Wankhede Stadium to the Brabourne Stadium - with additional nets at the BKC ground.
In the limited time he has had, Powar has tested various ideas and combinations.
"In the past eight games, we changed a lot of things," Powar said. "We put Taniya [Bhatia, the wicketkeeper-batsman] under pressure to go and play her shots in the Powerplay; we've put Jemimah under pressure. We've tried to replicate these things which are important in pressure situations. We played with only one seamer and put the spinners under pressure. We tried to expose them to the situation, let them go through that, and come out winners; that's how we learn.
"As a coach, I don't feel they will go under pressure in that situation [at the World T20] - I mean reaction-wise. We tried that for the last eight games to already put them under pressure - whether it's the pressure of batting in the Powerplay or the pressure of chasing a total."
Staying true to his straight-talking demeanour, Powar admitted that the task of building "a team from scratch" in such a short time hadn't been easy, especially in light of the growing profile of the women's team and the heightened media interest around it.
"To be very honest, it was not a pleasant situation," Powar said. "Then again, I come from Mumbai, I've faced such situations for the last 15 years.
"When you have to build a team from scratch… it's a matter of making them realise their potential, make them understand what the greater cause is. I was surprised to see they realised that so early. I had thought it would take them some time, but within a few days, they understood what I was talking [about]. It was challenging but it's been good."
While the tracks in the Caribbean - India play all their league games in Guyana, and in daytime - are likely to favour spin, Powar brushed aside concerns over the lack of a spearhead in the fast-bowling attack, with both Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey, the two experienced pacers, missing from the squad.
"Look, we are not here to create leaders; we are here to make match-winning players," he said. "It's as simple as that. We are not going to focus on one player. We are a unit in which any one player among the 15 players can win us games.
"We are trying to create a culture where every player feels they can be the match-winner for the side. We have not picked out anyone as the leader of the batting department or the bowling attack. That's been our attitude so far."
In what will be the first ever standalone Women's World T20, India, who had last qualified for the tournament playoffs in the 2010 edition, are pooled in Group B alongside Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand and Ireland. This will be India's first tour to the West Indies since March 2012, and they will begin their campaign on November 9 against New Zealand.