The Indian women’s team will be eyeing to clinch their maiden T20 World Cup that gets underway in Australia on Friday having come close on at least three occasions in the past.
The Women in Blue were semi-finalists in 2009, 2010 and 2018 but failed to go a notch beyond every single time — having put up a below-par show; failing to score even 120 on the board even once.
Although they don’t enter the tournament as favourites, with hosts Australia bagging that tag, the Indian team do have a few exciting names who they can bank on to go the distance. And they have an able skipper in Harmanpreet Kaur as well, who is into her seventh World Cup campaign having first played in the biennial tournament in 2009.
While it’s a side that relies on its batswomen to go all guns blazing at the top of the order, they have a good mix of spinners this time around as well.
Here’s a look at a few top names who will be vital for India to go the distance and break the last-four jinx:
Undoubtedly one of the biggest names in Indian women’s cricket, Smriti Mandhana’s batting will be one of the key factors going into the World Cup given her swashbuckling skills have the potential to help the side build a strong platform.
At the top of the order Mandhana averages a modest 26.04 but has a stellar strike rate of 119.24. Although she’s yet to score an international century in the shortest format of the game, Mandhana smashed 102 off 61 deliveries while representing Western Storm in the KIA Super League in England. Mandhana has a good record in Australia as well, scoring 281 runs in eight T20I matches so far at an average of 40.14.
Besides her experience, Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur is also one of the batting mainstays for the side and compliments Mandhana well in the middle order. Her aggressive style suits the late flourishes often required to notch up quick runs towards the fag end of an innings.
She scored 183 runs in five matches in the last edition and will be gunning for more to help her side achieve a maiden high — a World Cup in her seventh appearance. Her iconic 171 off 115 deliveries in the 50-over World Cup semi-final in 2017 also showcased her class of not shying away from crunch situations. Like Mandhana, Kaur too has a T20 century in the KIA Super League.
With most T20I wickets for India to her name, Poonam Yadav will be the go-to name for Harmanpreet Kaur’s side in the upcoming campaign. Although conditions in Australia tend to aid pacers more Poonam has been a consistent performer for India in the recent past and should be able to chip in with a few wickets.
She has a vicious wrong un’ as well but Poonam thrives on beating cricketers on the flight. In the last T20 World Cup, Poonam was India’s joint-highest wicket-taker with eight scalps to her name from five games. Although she’s a veteran of 62 T20Is, she’s lean on experience when it comes to playing in Australia (one ODI, two T20Is).
Pint-sized, Mumbaikar, great with the bat. And somehow, that description fits well for Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Prithvi Shaw. Jemimah Rodrigues has been quite the sensation from India’s cricketing heartland and has emerged as one of the stars for the future in her short career so far.
In just 39 T20Is Rodrigues already has six half-centuries to her name and has an astonishing strike rate of 114.18. Coming in at No 3, a lot will depend on her if the openers falter in one of the matches. And while she might be short on experience, her batting credentials outweigh most cricketers in the side.
The youngest international cricketer with a T20I half century, Shafali Verma will be one of the names who will hog attention at the World Cup. After she had become the youngest Indian cricketer to make an international debut, the 49-ball 73 in just her fifth international match proved that the Indian think-tank hadn’t made a mistake by handing over a cap to the youngster.
That half-century had also broken Sachin Tendulkar’s record of being the youngest cricketer to register a 50 in international cricket. A destructive opener, she pairs well with Mandhana at the top of the order and if both go all guns blazing, India can be rest assured of a tall total on the board.