Women in Blue Look to Replicate ODI Joy in T20Is vs New Zealand
Fresh off the high of a 2-1 ODI series win – their first victory in a full bilateral series in the country – the Indian women’s cricket team will be raring to make it a double celebration as they kick-start the T20I leg of their tour of New Zealand.
The three-match contest begins with the opening game at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium – which will also host the series opener for the men’s teams later in the day –on Wednesday, 6 February.
While they have tasted rare success, the immediate momentum rests with the hosts, who earned a heavy eight-wicket win in the third and final ODI at Hamilton.
For India, it will be a first outing in the shortest format since that infamous exit at the ICC World T20 in the Caribbean.
Captaincy Changes Hands
Harmanpreet Kaur, who did not get to play much of a role in the ODIs, where Mithali Raj was captain, will retake the leadership mantle for the T20Is. The duo were central figures in the controversy that broke loose after the semi-final defeat to England in November, where Raj was kept out of the playing XI to much debate and furore.
Questions were raised over the veteran batter’s strike rate in the format, and it will be intriguing to see how she approaches this series – or whether she finds a spot in the lineup, in the first place.
Kaur is expected to play a much bigger role with the bat, but a lot will depend on the start provided by Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues.
While they weren’t among the runs at Hamilton, Mandhana continued her sterling run of form in recent times with scores of 90 and 105 in the first two games – enough to win her the Player of the Series award, and see her climb to the top of the ICC rankings.
Fresh Chance for New Crop?
Taniya Bhatia had opened the batting along with Mandhana in the WT20 semi-final aganst England, but is likely to find herself lower in the order with 18-year-old Rodrigues having formed a potent pairing with the southpaw in the 50-over game.
There could be opportunity for uncapped all-rounder Priya Punia to prove her mettle to, having replaced an out-of-form Veda Krishnamurthy in the squad.
The three matches in New Zealand will serve as an early gauge for the team management to assess where the Indian T20I setup stands ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia early next year.
India: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana, Mithali Raj, Jemimah Rodrigues, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Priya Punia, Deepti Sharma, Dayalan Hemalatha, Anuja Patil, Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav, Ekta Bisht, Mansi Joshi, Arundhati Reddy, Shikha Pandey.
New Zealand: Amy Satterthwaite(c), Suzie Bates, Bernadine Bezuidenhout, Sophie Devine, Hayley Jensen, Caitlin Gurrey, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Frances Mackay, Katey Martin, Rosemary Mair, Hannah Rowe, Lea Tahuhu.