After their runners-up finish at the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 in England, India have a point to prove – that they can go all the way in a big tournament.
India find themselves in a tricky group in the ICC Women’s World T20 in the Caribbean. They are drawn alongside the No.1 and No.2 teams on the new MRF Tyres ICC Women’s T20I Team Rankings in Australia and New Zealand; Pakistan, who beat them in the last edition; and Ireland, who came in through the qualifier in the Netherlands. India begin their campaign against New Zealand on November 9 at Guyana National Stadium.
While they will back themselves to get the better of Ireland, they will have to keep pressure under check against Pakistan, and beat at least one of the top two to stand a chance of making it past the group stage. Hence, the opening game against New Zealand will be crucial.
The selectors are hoping that a young squad will make the difference for them. The Harmanpreet Kaur-led side has seven members who have played fewer than 15 T20Is, with one uncapped player in D. Hemalatha. The youngsters, including batter Jemimah Rodrigues, wicket-keeper batter Taniya Bhatia, bowlers Pooja Vastrakar, Arundhati Reddy, Mansi Joshi and Radha Yadav, have given a good account of themselves when they’ve had a chance.
But it will be up to the more experienced Mithali Raj, Poonam Yadav, Kaur and Smriti Mandhana to insulate the fresh faces from the pressures of a big tournament.
India’s strength is in their spinners. Poonam, the leg-spinner, recently became their all-time leading wicket-taker in T20Is and is No.2 on the MRF Tyres ICC Women’s T20I Rankings for Bowlers. The experienced Ekta Bisht and the young Radha provide the left-arm spin options, with their difference in heights making for potentially different angles. Deepti Sharma and Kaur are off spinners.
The surfaces in the West Indies are expected to help the slower bowlers, and India will bank on their spinners to keep the big-hitting opposition in check.
Indian batters traditionally haven’t been big-hitters, but the likes of Mandhana and Kaur are changing that. Mandhana has been in stellar form all year, even bringing up a T20I hundred in the Women’s Cricket Super League in England and smashing a fifty off 18 balls. If she can get going, India are assured of a strong total. And in the veteran Raj, they have someone who can hold down one end in tricky batting conditions.
The team tend to rely on Mandhana for the power-hitting and to set the tone. If she slips up, the scoring rate takes a hit, especially if Kaur doesn’t start with a bang. They can get bogged down by dot-ball pressure, losing wickets in clumps, and rotating the strike is an issue – something that was shown up in their losses to Bangladesh in the Asia Cup.
They seemed to have addressed this to some extent in their most recent series in Sri Lanka. Despite a poor run for Mandhana, the rest of the line-up showed more intent, with Rodrigues, Bhatia and Patil displaying a welcome versatility and playing a busy game.
Another concern is that the team is rather green behind the ears, especially with the pace bowling. But all the fresh blood could go either way: the inexperience could be India’s biggest weakness – or biggest strength. Courtesy: https://www.icc-cricket.com/
India: Harmanpreet Kaur (captain), Taniya Bhatia (wicketkeeper), Ekta Bisht, Dayalan Hemalatha, Mansi Joshi, Veda Krishnamurthy, Smriti Mandhana, Anuja Patil, Mithali Raj, Arundhati Reddy, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav.
New Zealand: Amy Satterthwaite (captain), Suzie Bates, Bernadine Bezuidenhout, Sophie Devine, Kate Ebrahim, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jensen, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Katey Martin (wicketkeeper), Anna Peterson, Hannah Rowe, Lea Tahuhu, Jess Watkin.