'(It) feels great. Just to win the gold is special, and being the first Indian cricket side to win the gold will make people go back in history and see that this was the team that actually won the first-ever gold in cricket in the Asian Games. It's an amazing feeling.'
India's Jemima Rodrigues on Monday urged the men's team to aim for the gold after the women's team created history in the final of the Asian Games.
India Women's side beat Sri Lanka by 19 runs to win the Asian Games gold medal in Hangzhou in their maiden appearance.
Batting first, India posted 116 for seven on a difficult batting track before the Titas Sadhu-led bowling attack restricted Sri Lanka to 97 for eight in 20 overs.
“We have spoken to the men's team. We have told them that we are bringing the gold; you guys also bring it,” an elated Rodrigues told reporters in Hangzhou.
"(It) feels great. Just to win the gold is special, and being the first Indian cricket side to win the gold will make people go back in history and see that this was the team that actually won the first-ever gold in cricket in the Asian Games. It's an amazing feeling," she added.
Rodrigues said it was a proud feeling to add to India's medals tally at the Games.
"It is a very different experience... wearing this India jersey is a (matter of) different pride. Also, we can add a medal to India as a sporting nation,” she said.
"I think this is one of the biggest achievements for us as a team," Rodrigues told Reuters.
"Just to get the gold for the nation and to add to the medals of the nation, I think there's no bigger prize than that."
Talking about the gold medal contest on a challenging surface, Rodrigues said the contest had its own challenges.
"It wasn't easy, as Sri Lanka gave us a good fight. Their bowlers bowled spot-on, and we really had to apply ourselves. Very proud of the girls, and the way we played today displays our character,” she said.
"It was an important partnership between me and Smriti (Mandhana) because the Sri Lankan bowlers were at the top of their game.
“We are glad the way we played and built the partnership, along with the other girls coming in and chipping in,” said Rodrigues (42), who added 73 runs with Mandhana (46) for the second wicket in a low-scoring contest.
Rodrigues said the team had to adapt to different surfaces for every match. "We honestly did not know what to expect when we came over here,” she said.
“We knew that we had to be ready for any condition, and in all three matches we had different kinds of wickets that we had to adapt to, which is the best part of our team's performance,” Rodrigues added.
"It's been a great experience in general, the way everyone has welcomed us in China."
"It's not been easy since the communication has been a problem. But, they (the organisers) went out of their way to make us feel comfortable and make our stay easy," she added.
India coach and former international Hrishikesh Kanitkar too was delighted to have added to the country's tally.
"We rank this gold right up there because it adds to the country's tally of gold medals. So, I think it's very, very important that we directly contribute to the country,” he said.
Kanitkar termed India's total as a ‘decent score' owing to conditions.
"We were aiming for 120, but reaching it a couple of overs early would have surely allowed us to go for 140... the nature of the soil and conditions matter. But, we ended up with a decent score,” he said.
"The girls responded very well. We are always open to improving, and even though we have won the gold, we are open to improving more."
Despite being outplayed, the Indian coach credited Sri Lanka for their display. "They (Lankans) bowled really well, but I feel our batters batted well in the starting and the middle phases. But, credit to them (Lanka) for how they played this game."
Kanitkar also praised Rodrigues for her intent during the game. "(It was an) ultimate knock. Not so much of big-hitting, but using the mind, and I think that's very mature," he said.