Updated: Aug 6
India Women need to sort out winning combination ahead of ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2024.
The upcoming ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, the ninth edition of this championship is expected to be hosted in Bangladesh between September and October 2024. India Women’s team recently played an away bilateral series against Bangladesh and what better way Team India could have asked to kickstart the preparation for T20 World Cup against the hosts of the upcoming World T20.
India were looked upon as mighty favourites against the host team but the results didn’t turn out the way as it was expected. India won 2-1 and tied 1-1 against Bangladesh in the 3-match T20I and ODI series respectively. India let few matches slip away from their hands even after being in the driver’s seat for the maximum duration of the game this time; something which has been a constant dilemma halting their further progression towards winning semi-finals or finals against teams like Australia and England. Team India has managed to give strong performances against these teams in multilateral ICC events in recent times but has not been able to consolidate it in the final stages of the game.
Team India is eager to rub off the bitter-sweet experiences of the past and has begun proceedings towards World Cup preparation from the scratch. For that Team India has started with some experimentation in the recently concluded 3-match T20I and ODI bilateral away series against Bangladesh. Keeping in mind that the upcoming T20 World Cup is only a year away from now, India need to sort out the winning combination soon so that there is ample preparation for the mega event.
Team India selection for recently concluded Bangladesh series surprised many cricket pundits and followers of the game
Team India revolves around the core team of skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Shafali Verma and Renuka Singh Thakur. The exclusion of Renuka Thakur from the Bangladesh series surprised many experts and followers; she is currently recuperating from her injury and undergoing rehabilitation and fitness sessions at the National Cricket Academy (NCA). She has been India’s pace leader after the retirement of veteran Jhulan Goswami and Team India will be hoping for her fast recovery.
Another notable exclusion that has baffled the experts is of young dynamic 19-year-old wicketkeeper batter Richa Ghosh who has earned a reputation of an explosive batter in the lower middle order in T20Is for India and has saved Team India from collapses and helped the team win on several occasions. Considering her age and what she offers to the game, former Australia cricketer Lisa Sthalekar has openly vouched to keep Richa Ghosh in scheme of things for Team India for a long run.
Some other exclusions in Bangladesh series include the names of Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Radha Yadav and Shikha Pandey. As many as 4 players which include the names of Amanjot Kaur, Anusha Bareddy, Minnu Mani and Rashi Kanojiya received T20I caps for Team India. Amanjot Kaur and Anusha Bareddy also received ODI caps in the Bangladesh series. One thing Team India must take into consideration is giving fair and long enough chances to the new upcoming talents to prepare them for the high pressure events and invest proper time in their training and nurturing. Chopping them in and out of the team combination can severely hurt the team combination and the youngsters’ confidence who are not yet assured if they will be able to grab up the next chance.
Team India looking to increase depth in batting and bowling, and giving opportunities to pace and spin all-rounders in the mix
With the notable exclusion of lower order explosive batter Richa Ghosh, Team India played Yastika Bhatia at no. 5 after Harmanpreet Kaur and gave opportunities to all-rounders like debutant Amanjot Kaur, Devika Vaidya, Minnu Mani and Pooja Vastrakar. It appeared thatTeam India are looking to fill the spaces in T20Is with players who can serve dual roles in the team to increase the depth in both batting and bowling.
Team India is taking the route of teams like Australia and England who have players who can both bat and bowl till no. 10 or 11. But for execution, India need to include the right set of players in the mix, assess the conditions, analyse the strengths and weaknesses in certain set of conditions and give these players fair and enough chances to keep their morale and confidence high. Even regular players like Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Harleen Deol and Harmanpreet Kaur can bowl few overs as well if things don’t go as per plan.
Crying need to set up proper batting order to avoid collapses in high pressure games
The one thing that has kept Team India out of contention in ICC trophies is their inability to soak pressure, rotate strike and play as many scoring shots as possible in the midst of high pressure games. This has allowed the match to slip away from their hands even after being in commanding positions. Team India now has only four regular batters which includes Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues and Harmanpreet Kaur.
The opening pair is well sorted with Shafali Verma who plays the role of an aggressor while Smriti Mandhana plays the role of an anchor. But the opening pair’s recent form with a dip in the striking prowess of Shafali and vulnerabilities of Mandhana against off spin has drawn the ire of many experts and avid watchers of the game. Being the senior players of the team, they need to work upon these vulnerabilities and come back strong to take India to commanding positions in powerplays. Players like Sabbhineni Meghna and Dayalan Hemlatha are waiting for their opportunities to play as openers in the team. Its Shafali Verma who is in the hot seat to face the axe if she is not able to prove her mettle in the upcoming Asian Games.
Richa Ghosh will make a return to the team in the upcoming Asian Games after Yastika Bhatia has failed in the opportunities given to her as a wicketkeeper batter in the series against Bangladesh. Ghosh will need to have a strong partner at the other end who gives her the confidence and flexibility of playing long shots without any fear of losing wicket and senior batters like Harmanpreet Kaur and Jemimah Rodrigues, any one amongst them can play the second finisher so that Team India can finish strong. Team India has a lot of bowling all-rounders like Amanjot Kaur, Pooja Vastrakar and Devika Vaidya in the line up to ensure that there is still ample batting left even if wickets fall quickly.
A second-string pace attack and spin attack being readied for upcoming tournaments in case senior pacers face injuries
India’s senior pace attack is led by the swing and powerplay overs queen Renuka Singh Thakur along with senior pacers, Shikha Pandey and Pooja Vastrakar. Now that Renuka Thakur is out of the team owing to her injury and currently rehabilitating at the NCA and Shikha Pandey has not been given chance in Team India in the Bangladesh series, the newer looking pace attack consisted of names like Amanjot Kaur, Monica Patel, Meghna Singh and Anjali Sarvani.
The spin attack of India is led by Deepti Sharma along with Rajeshwari Gayakwad. But Gayakwad’s recent performances have rather been underwhelming to say the least as she has been leaking too many runs and been unable to take much wickets. Radha Yadav is the third spinner Team India plays with but she is also currently rehabilitating at NCA. With these ongoing developments, the team has introduced a new look spin attack consisting of names like Minnu Manni, Anusha Bareddy, Rashi Kanojiya and Devika Vaidya where players like Vaidya and Manni can bat deep and can serve dual roles to give Team India batting and bowling depth and variation.
Considering India Women’s performance in the recently concluded ICC T20 Women’s World Cup and in the away bilateral series against Bangladesh, Team India will look to avenge some redemption in the upcoming Asian Games 2023 which will start on September 19 and will end on October 8, 2023. These games will be played in Hangzhou and squad for the same has also been announced.
India’s T20I Squad For Asian Games 2023: Harmanpreet Kaur (C), Smriti Mandhana (VC), Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Richa Ghosh (wk), Amanjot Kaur, Devika Vaidya, Anjali Sarvani, Titas Sadhu, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Minnu Mani, Kanika Ahuja, Uma Chetry (wk), Anusha Bareddy
Standby Players: Harleen Deol, Kashvee Gautam, Sneh Rana, Saika Ishaque, Pooja Vastrakar