Know Your Stars – A Look at The Indian Women’s Team for the T20 WC
The Bollywood song “Apna time aayega” (our moment in the sun will arrive), might have just been the mantra of the Indian Eves till a few years ago. Despite the heavy presence of legends, the side was awaiting its breakthrough moment, which arrived after a thumping showing in the World Cup in 2017.
Another respectable outing in the World T20 Cup in West Indies in 2018 went a long way in changing perceptions about the women’s cricket in India, but the onus will be on the unit to live up to the new-found fame yet again as they gear up to participate in another T20 World Cup that commences on 21 February.
India announced a strong 15-member squad for the multi-national event, and here we analyse each member’s performance since the last T20 tourney, predicting how the members are likely to fare in Australia.
All stats mentioned are from the end of the T20 World Cup in November 2018 and take only international games into account.
Matches: 8, Wickets: 4, Average: 24.25, ER: 6.06
Edging out Shikha Pandey for a spot in the T20 World Cup team in 2018, Vastrakar has mediocre numbers to her name since the end of the last edition.
However, the seamer has played most of her matches in spin-friendly conditions, and will be expected to have a bigger role to play Down Under.
With swing and control being her biggest weapons, Pooja, who returned from a long knee injury last September, worked on the bouncer and the yorker in her long injury-layoff to improve her death-over returns.
Matches: 5, Wickets: 5, Average: 33.20, ER: 8.30
With the ability to rush players for pace and getting the ball to rear off an awkward length, Reddy, with her high release and long limbs has often been compared to Jhulan Goswami.
This fact was highlighted by then coach Ramesh Powar as well, who had touted the Hyderabad player as a future replacement to the Bengal pacer. However, despite flashes of brilliance, Reddy has been unable to string together consistent wickets in the last year, and has leaked runs as well.
With Team India’s strategy of relying on the spinners as the main threats likely to change in the event considering the tracks on offer, Reddy could be given a few chances initially, and she would be eager to latch on to her chances.
Matches: 8, Wickets: 7, Average: 21.14, ER: 5.10
After being dropped from the 2018 WT20 Cup, Pandey has managed to stage a strong comeback, and will enter the upcoming edition as the leader of India’s pace attack.
All 7 wickets that she has picked up in the format since her comeback have come on dust-bowls, and what has been impressive is how she has managed to swing the ball even when the conditions are not to her liking.
One of the few players over the age of 30 in the team, Pandey has plenty of experience, and will be the commander-in-chief of a relatively young pace bowling attack.
The left-arm orthodox bowler last played an international T20 game back in the Asia Cup in 2018, and was not picked for the T20 event in Windies as well.
She has scalped a wicket each in her last five ODI games, but chances of her featuring in the XI look slim in Australia, with players like Deepti Sharma, Poonam Yadav and Radha Yadav expected to handle the spin department.
Rarely does a youngster get a direct call-up to a global event without plying their trade in the national colours before. However, such has been the journey of Bengal batter Richa Ghosh, whose impressive returns in the Challenger Trophy ensured her selection in the World Cup team.
Modeling her game after MS Dhoni, Ghosh smashed 36 off 26 in one of the games in the recent tournament, and was picked as an answer to India’s middle order woes. Often considered top-heavy, the team was in desperate search of a player who could smash the ball a long way at the death even in the case of a few quick wickets.
The 16-year-old awaits her biggest battle yet, as clearing the ball in the large grounds will be a challenging task.
Matches: 13, Wickets: 21, Average: 13.19, ER: 5.67
Ranked number two in the ICC T20I list, Radha has emerged from the shadows and was the highest wicket-taker for the Indian Eves in 2019.
From being a reserve player to now having cemented her spot in the XI, Radha’s deceptive variations and her googlies, be it with the new ball or in the middle, has made her a force to reckon with.
The left-arm spinner relishes performing under pressure, and will be a crucial cog in the line-up.
Matches: 14, Wickets: 16, Average: 19.25, ER: 5.81
Recently given with the Women’s Player of the Year award in the BCCI Awards, Poonam Yadav happily bowls below the 60kmph-mark, forcing the batters to provide all the pace.
Though she was the only Indian to be featured in the Team of the Tournament at the end of the 2014 T20 World Cup, Yadav could only seal a regular spot in 2017. Since then, she has emerged as a world beater, someone who forces the batter to commit mistakes with her strict line and lengths.
Almost 21percent of Poonam’s wickets are stumped, which is evidence of how rarely she gives any width to the rivals. There is enough turn in her deliveries, she gets the ball to dip and arc and bamboozles the batters at will, and undoubtedly, will spearhead the bowling team in Australia.
Matches: 14, Wickets: 19, Average: 13.84, Runs: 144
Deepti created history when she became the fourth Indian cricketer to participate in the England-based Kia Super League last year. The all-rounder contributed in both departments regularly and played a major part in Western Storm’s title-winning run.
Deepti’s off-spin often created chances, but it was her batting that made waves. She was smart in her approach with the willow, and after important cameos in the group stages, raised her game in the final where she amassed 39 in 22 deliveries to take her team over the line.
While her batting is massively under-utilised in the international circuit, be on the lookout for the Agra player as she aims to clinch games regularly Down Under.
Matches: 15, Runs: 21, Average: 7, SR: 100
Despite her heroics in the bilateral series against Sri Lanka before the 2018 World Cup, where she won games for her side batting up the order, Bhatia has been relegated to bat as low as number nine of late, with dismal returns.
She is swift with the gloves and is often considered as the best women’s keeper. Her movements are fluid, she has quick hands, dives beautifully and is spot on in anticipating the movement.
The fact that the team travels to Australia with just one keeper in their rank is evidence of the trust that the management has in Bhatia. If called upon with the bat, with her combination of power hitting and grafting, the cricketer can leave more than a mark.
Matches: 10, Runs: 133, Average: 26.60, SR: 106.40
After a disappointing 2018 campaign where Veda finished with just 24 runs from 5 games, she returned to the international fold in the series against England last year after decent showings in the domestic scene.
However, the experienced pro has failed to mould her game according to the format, with most of her innings’ being scored at run-a-ball. Her comeback game saw Veda make 15 against England, but in 25 deliveries, and the trend continued till her last T20I, where she scored 57* in 48 balls.
Though the stalwart might get a look-in at Australia in the early games, the inability to raise her scoring rate might force the team to look towards Ghosh.
Matches: 5, Runs: 23, Wickets: 3
Unlikely to be a first-choice in the XI, the all-rounder scored two vital knocks in the mini women’s IPL last year, smashing 36 and 43 in the two games. However, with plenty of spin options in the World T20 Cup, it is expected that Deol will warm the benches more than she takes the field.
Matches: 15, Runs: 302, Average: 25.16, SR: 98.05
Another player from India to play in the KSL last year, Rodrigues set the league stages alight with her form, including smashing a hundred - her first in T20s.
Her on-side dominance, ability to loft the pacers and shuffle within her crease towards the off-side against the spin means that the teenager has an all-round game at her disposal.
What stands out, especially, is her steel in seeing the side through tense games, which is what makes her a player to watch out for.
Matches: 9, Runs: 222, Average: 27.75, SR: 142.30
Making her debut as a 15-year old for Team India, Shafali has gone from strength to strength and enters her maiden ICC global event on the back of stellar returns.
Some of her notable contributions at the top have been a 33-ball 46 in just her second game against South Africa, a 49-ball 73 and a 35-ball 69*that set the tone for the side.
What was impressive was her strike-rate of 156.20, and if she can keep the momentum going in Australia, her pairing with Smriti Mandhana at the top will be hard to break.
Matches: 14, Runs: 405, Average: 31.15, SR: 124.61
One of the most flamboyant and consistent players in world cricket in the last two years, Mandhana has often been compared to Sourav Ganguly as far as her off-side play is concerned.
With an impressive back-foot technique that allows her to play the fast bowlers better, and with an equally impressive front-foot game, the left-hander has mastered the art of playing according to the conditions.
She does not have the best record in ICC events, however, something that Mandhana would want to change.
Matches: 11, Runs: 152, Wickets: 4
The Indian skipper had a hot-and-cold 2019, and the same trend continued in the KSL as well, where, after a fine start, she fizzled out towards the end.
However, her feats in the last two ICC events - a monstrous ton in the semis of the 2017 World Cup, followed by yet another brazen innings against New Zealand in the T20 World Cup indicates that the Punjabi is a big-match player, who, irrespective of form, will raise her game in crucial moments.
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