ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2023: Are India Women on the right course? Will their new style of play reap rewards in World T20 in February 2023?
Recently, the India Women’s team lost a home T20I series 1-4 to Australia. Although the margin of loss looks wide, India did run Australia close and made them sweat for each win. If luck had went India’s way, they could have well bagged the series. They won a one-over eliminator after the high-scoring second T20I was tied, while narrowly lost the fourth T20I by 7 runs. It was in just two games that they were completely outplayed by the mighty Aussies.
Nevertheless, India Women are showing a new brand of cricket in T20Is – an aggressive approach in order to be great competitors in this format. They are no longer pushovers and can give higher-ranked opponents a run for their money. Not so long ago, India Women narrowly lost the 2022 Commonwealth Games (CWG) Cricket Competition final to Australia by 9 runs and had to settle for a silver medal.
Are batters thorough with new style of play ahead of World T20?
Ahead of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023, India Women look to be on the right course to pose a serious challenge for the crown that they missed putting their hands on in the 2020 edition where they ended up runners-up to Australia. India also have a new coaching team whose main job will be to shed old baggage and be competitive in this format.
The inclusion of some hard-hitting batters in this format has given India Women the edge. Shafali Verma, who opens the batting for India, packs enough punch to give the bowlers a real hiding on her day. She pairs up with the experienced Smriti Mandhana who drops anchor when Verma is in full flow or takes over the aggressor’s role once Verma is dismissed early. On another occasion, when both players are hitting the ball well, they throw caution to the wind and go after the bowling.
Jemimah Rodrigues has had an ordinary series against Australia, but she is a reliable number 3 batter who accumulates runs cheekily with her smart batting. Harmanpreet Kaur is one of the best batters around and is a genuine match-winner to bank on. She can score quickly, or hold one end up before she decides to explode.
Richa Ghosh is playing the finisher’s role well; she scored runs at a strike rate of almost 200 during the recently concluded T20I series against Australia. In the fourth T20I against Australia that India lost, the keeper-batter scored a 19-ball 40 not out.
Meanwhile, Deepti Sharma, who is a reliable all-rounder with a solid experience of 82 T20Is, comes in handy in pressure situations with both bat and ball.
More consistency required from bowlers
In terms of bowling, the emergence of Renuka Singh as a strike bowler has prevented fans or the India Women’s team to miss the services of Jhulan Goswami anymore. However, Renuka needs to be more consistent to be counted among the best medium pacers in T20Is currently.
In terms of the spin department, India are served well, with the likes of Radha Yadav and Rajeshwari Gayakwad bringing together an experience of over 100 T20Is. As both are left-arm orthodox slow bowlers, they are rarely played together. But a new wrist spinner in Devika Vaidya gives India variety in their spin attack. And the best part is that, unlike their male counterparts, India’s specialist batters such as Shafali and Harmanpreet do roll their off-breaks regularly to give balance to the side and make the best use of the conditions.
Mental Conditioning Coach: Need of the hour?
Although India look like a good competitive T20I team on paper, their choking in the knockouts, or final to be precise is a situation that needs a lot of work to be addressed correctly. Perhaps, a mental conditioning coach could help them overcome this jinx. Also, their fielding or on-ground work needs improvement to complement their strong batting and bowling unit.
Ahead of the 2023 World T20 to be held between February 10 and 26 in South Africa, India would aim to iron out their weaknesses, and play with their new aggressive approach to finally go across the line in a big ICC tournament.
India Squad for ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023
Harmanpreet Kaur (captain), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia (wicketkeeper), Richa Ghosh (wk), Jemimah Rodrigues, Harleen Deol, Deepti Sharma, Devika Vaidya, Radha Yadav, Renuka Thakur, Anjali Sarvani, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Shikha Pandey
Reserves: Sabbhineni Meghana, Sneh Rana, Meghna Singh