India's star batswoman Punam Raut is keen to meet and talk to aggressive South African batsman AB De Villiers.
"I enjoy the cricket of AB De Villiers, basically the way he handles the pressure situation and carries his team. I would like to interact with him," Punam, who rose to fame after the recent ICC Women's World Cup, told reporters here on the sidelines of a Maharashtra government function.
India's Women team is scheduled to tour South Africa to play three One-Day Internationals and three T20 games starting from February 2 with a warm-up game.
Asked about the tour, the right-handed batswoman said, "We had toured South Africa earlier and so are familiar with weather conditions and wickets (pitches). We have played there, there are bouncy tracks. Our preparations are ongoing.
"Before that, we are preparing for the domestic season. Those matches will be used as practise games for the tour. BCCI will conduct a camp before the tour," she said.
Punam, who was part of India's Women team which ended as runners-up in the 2017 World Cup, received a Rs 50 lakh cash award from the Maharashtra government. Her teammates Mona Meshram and Smriti Mandhana have also given Rs 50 lakh each.
The state government today also felicitated Rio Olympic Bronze medallist Sakshi Malik (cash award of Rs 50 lakh), her coach Kuldeep Singh (Rs 25 lakh), Rio Olympian athlete Lalita Babar (Rs 75 lakh), her coach Bhaskar Bhosale (Rs 25 lakh).
It also felicitated Rio Olympian rower Dattu Bhokanal (Rs 50 lakh), hockey player Devinder Walmiki (Rs 50 lakh), athlete Kavita Raut (Rs 50 lakh), shooter Ayonika Paul (Rs 50 lakh) and tennis player Prarthana Thombre (Rs 50 lakh).
The government also felicitated Mariyappan Thangavelu with a cash award of Rs 1 crore for bagging a gold in high jump at the Rio Paralympics. It also feted his coach Satyanarayan (Rs 25 lakh).
Javelin thrower Devendra Jhajaria, the first Paralympian to win two gold medals at the Paralympics (Rs 1 crore), his coach Sunil Tanwar (Rs 25 lakh), Paralympian Deepa Malik, the first Indian woman to win a medal in Paralympic Games (Rs 75 lakh) and her coach Vaibhav Sirohi (Rs 18.75 lakh) were too feted.
Para high jumper Varun Singh Bhati, who bagged a bronze medal at the Paralympics held last year was also feted with an award of Rs 50 lakh.
Maharashtra sports minister Vinod Tawde and BJP MLA and Mumbai Cricket Association chief Ashish Shelar felicitated the athletes.