With the advent of the new year, another ICC event is set to begin and this time the expectations of the entire 133.92 billion Indian population will be on the Indian eves who will be participating in the 2020 ICC T20 Women’s World Cup which begins from February 21.
The Indian women’s team have taken a giant stride over the last few years with them finishing runners-up in the 2017 Women’s World Cup while also reaching till the semi-finals of the 2018 Women’s World T20.
The Indian eves right after their semi-final exit in the 2018 edition of the T20 World Cup were struggling. They suffered back to back series whitewashes at the hands of New Zealand (away) and England at home.
However, the ‘Women in Blue’ stormed back to get some results going in their favour. They won 3-1 against South Africa before blanking West Indies 5-0. They even fought hard in the tri-series involving Australia and England wherein they finished as runners-up in the lead-up to this T20 World Cup.
The Indian squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup boasts of young players with an average age of 22 years and 9 months. The eldest player in the team is skipper Harmanpreet Kaur along with pacer Shikha Pandey, while the youngest in the team is young opening dynamic batswoman Shafali Verma.
The Women in Blue looked down and out in the shortest format last March, having gone through six successive losses, however, since then a number of senior players have either retired or been dropped such as Mithali Raj, who retired from the format in March, while opener Punam Raut and wicket-keeper batswoman Sushma Verma were axed from the side in place of youngsters such as Shafali Verma, Taniya Bhatia and Harleen Deol who excelled in the 2019 Women’s T20 Challenge.
With the arrival of young blood, the team started performing on the back of some consistent performances from the youngsters like Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Deepti Sharma. And along with experienced players such as skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, her deputy Smriti Mandhana and Shikha Pandey, the Indian team looks to be a strong contender this year to lift the coveted trophy.
With the World Cup just set to begin in a couple of days’ time, let’s delve into the details of the Indian squad for the upcoming tournament.
Strong Top-Order – Like their male counterpart, the Indian eves boasts of a strong top-order batting line-up. The likes of Mandhana, Verma, Rodrigues, and Kaur form a strong top-four core.
Shafali’s role in the team is to play freely and pile on as many runs as possible for her team during the powerplays. Meanwhile, Mandhana and Rodrigues are expected to don the anchorwoman’s role for their team trying to lay down a solid foundation for the lower order to explode and put on a huge total.
Harmanpreet, on the other hand, is expected to do both as and when the situation arises. If the team has lost early wickets for cheap, then she is expected to anchor the innings, meanwhile, if the team is in a good position then she is expected to don the role of a pinch-hitter cum finisher to help the team post monstrous total.
Quality spinners – India, as a cricketing nation is traditionally known for producing quality spinners and the same, is the case in women’s cricket as well. The current squad boasts of four quality spinners who have been a major reason for India’s emergence of a potent T20I team.
The role of right-arm off-break Deepti and left-arm orthodox Radha is to contain runs of the opponent so that pressure piles on to the opponents which in turn forces them to commit mistakes and lose wickets.
Meanwhile, the leg-break of Poonam Yadav and left-arm orthodox of Rajeshwari Gayakwad are tasked with attacking the opponent’s batters in the quest of getting wickets.
Spineless Middle-order – The Indian middle-order and lower order look frail and feeble. The likes of Veda Krishnamurthy, Deepti Sharma, Harleen Deol, and Taniya Bhatia have blown hot and cold in the recent past and need to pull up their socks if India is to achieve the unthinkable.
The Indian team had lost the 2017 World Cup Final against England due to its incompetence of finishing the game as the team was in good position to seal the game and the tournament but lost track in the middle to get bundled up and eventually lose the contest and the same was seen again in the final of the recently concluded Australian tri-series.
Toothless Fast bowling – After the retirement of Jhulan Goswami from the format, India has had concerns in their pace attack. Apart from Shikha Pandey, no other pacer in the squad has the ability to rattle their opposition through some serious fast bowling.
Pooja Vastrakar has pace but she hasn’t yet developed the ability to bowl consistently in good areas and is also not economical as she goes for plenty of runs. Meanwhile, Arundhati lacks pace and thus would not be able to unsettle batswomen from bouncy Australian pitches.
Substandard fielding – Although the average age of Indian players is 22 years and 9 months, yet they are one of the worst fielding units in the tournament. Apart from Deepti, Smriti, Jemimah, and Harmanpreet, none of the other players are good fielders.
The Indians are especially sloppy at outfield where they drop sitters and are also abysmal in stopping the boundaries and would thus have to tighten their belts in the fielding department if they are to register their maiden World T20 title in Australia.
Smriti Mandhana – The Virat Kohli of women’s cricket, Smriti would be the vital cog of this Indian world cup squad. She will be tasked to anchor the Indian innings and if she gets going, then the Indians will be in for posting a mammoth total. Thus the batswomen around her would have to absorb the pressure to let her get set for a big inning.
Indian Women’s Squad for 2020 T20 World Cup: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Harleen Deol, Veda Krishnamurthy, Richa Ghosh, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Deepti Sharma, Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar, Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav, Arundhati Reddy, Rajeshwari Gayakwad.
February 21: Australia Women vs India Women – Sydney Showground Stadium, Sydney
February 24: India Women vs Bangladesh Women – W.A.C.A. Ground, Perth
February 27: India Women vs New Zealand Women – Junction Oval, Melbourne
February 29: India Women vs Sri Lanka Women, 14th Match – Junction Oval, Melbourne