ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023: India go in with strong batting order; inexperienced bowling cause for concern. India Women squad SWOT analysis ahead of T20 World Cup 2023 to be held in South Africa in February.
India Women’s selection committee on December 28 announced India’s squad for the upcoming ICC Women’s T20 World cup 2023 that is scheduled to be held from February 10 to February 26 in South Africa.
There are a total of ten teams participating in the tournament, which are divided into two groups - Group A consists of Australia, Bangladesh, South Africa, Sri Lanka and New Zealand; while Group B consists of India, England, Pakistan, West Indies and Ireland. India will play their first group match against Pakistan on February 12 at Newlands in Cape Town. From each group, the top two teams will advance to the semi-finals. The final will be played on February 26 at Newlands.
This world cup would be the first-ever big tournament after two most successful and celebrated names of women’s cricket, Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, bid adieu to international cricket. The expectations are high from the team, as they reached the final of the T20 World Cup in 2020, but lost to Australia in the decisive match. This time, Harmanpreet Kaur and Co would not just like to repeat their 2020 performance; but also want to break the jinx of the final.
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
The team will be led by Harmanpreet Kaur while Smriti Mandhana will be her deputy. Veteran pacer Shikha Pandey found a place for herself in the T20 World Cup squad after being dropped from the team for the last 14 months.
Strengths of India’s squad for T20 World Cup 2023
Brilliant openers & experienced middle order
Batting line-up of the squad selected for the T20 World Cup 2023 is the greatest strength. The opening pair of Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma lends stability at the top order with Shafali providing avenues for a good strike rate and average that the team needs. Mandhana’s current form comes as a huge morale booster for the team. She has been seen as a versatile player, who can play under any situation from aggressor to anchor innings when the team needs her in that role. Mandhana could provide decent support to Shafali Verma, who plays the role of an aggressor and ensures to get good runs for the team during the powerplay overs.
The number three slot could be backed up by either a 22-year-old Jemimah Rodrigues or Harleen Deol, both of whom are capable of giving stability to the team which is needed at a crucial time. Rodrigues has scored a total of 1518 runs in 70 T20I matches with a batting average of 29.76. She has been struggling for form though of late with a below par performance against Australia in the recently concluded 5-match series at home in December 2022.
Deol, who was selected for the T20I series against Australia in India, got to play only one match, in which she scored 24 runs in 16 balls, of which 22 runs came from boundaries; four fours and one six.
Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, who has always contributed with the bat, is also struggling to get a big score and this could be a matter of concern for the team. However, with a total of 2,831 runs in 142 matches in T20Is, she is the highest run-getter in the team, and her experience could not be discounted. She would play a crucial role in the middle order along with Deepti Sharma and wicketkeeper Richa Ghosh. Young Ghosh has not played many matches for the senior team, but the team has high hopes from her. Shafali Verma and Ghosh are also part of India’s squad in the ongoing U19 ICC Women’s World Cup in South Africa. It is expected that they will get acclimatised to the conditions that will be beneficial for the team.
Devika Vaidya is making a comeback after eight years. She is flexible in the batting order, can be used as a floater and contribute with quick runs when needed, and can be used as extra bowler to pick up wickets.
Weakness of India’s squad for T20 World Cup 2023
Inexperienced pacers a cause for concern
Bowling is the biggest concern for India. Ramesh Powar who resigned as Head Coach of the women’s team, used to guide the team in bowling strategies and techniques himself. Since Powar’s exit, the team doesn’t have any proper bowling coach to mentor the team. Apart from the absence of bowling coach, the team has a few inexperienced but talented bowlers like Renuka Singh, Anjali Sarvani who have not played many games which might affect the stability in the bowling section.
The seam attack would be led by Shikha Pandey, Renuka Singh, Pooja Vastrakar and left-armer Anjali Sarvani. Vastrakar has been included in the team, but due to her injury, she might not be able to find a place for herself in the playing XI.
Shikha Pandey’s inclusion in the international team has boosted the morale of the bowling camp in the team. With 40 wickets in 56 T20Is for India and 75 in ODIs, she brings a lot of experience and stability to the team. Even though Renuka doesn’t have much bowling experience in international cricket, but in recent times the bowling attack has been dependent on her. In 25 T20I matches, she has begged 23 wickets since her debut in Feburary 2022. She has been nominated for the ICC’s Women’s Emerging Player of the Year award.
Deepti Sharma, Rajeshwari Gayakwad leads spin attack
Deepti Sharma, Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Devika Vaidya have the responsibility to handle the spin bowling attack. Sharma could bring the variations in the bowling attack, and she is the only spinner who plays WBBL for Sydney Thunder and for Birmingham Phoenix in The Hundred in England.
During the series against Australia, India’s end-overs performance was far below expectations. In the final overs, the Indian team gave away an average 12.26 runs per over, which was much lower than Australia’s 9.37 runs per over. The visitors scored 170 or more in almost every game and even the home team managed to make 150 or more in every game other than the final. But if India need to win a world event then they have to be at the peak of their game, and their bowling attack has to ensure not to leak runs especially at the death overs.
The team would definitely miss a good leg-spinner, especially when they might be playing against Australia. The Australian team has always struggled to play a leg-spinner. Exclusion of Poonam Yadav from the T20 World Cup might hamper the team.
There have been many times when fielding standards were not up to expectations, conceded extra runs, dropped catches, misfielded, and missed run-outs at crucial junctions, which cost them the match.
Before starting their campaign for the T20 World Cup, the team will play a tri-series against South Africa and the West Indies in South Africa. The tri-series will help the players to get accustomed to the pitches and the environment in South Africa just before the world event.
To win the T20 World Cup, the team has to perform in every game. Every batter has to score runs and every bowler has to take wickets and be economical.