This time, last year, a billion eyes, watched with bated breath, as Indian Women’s team slogged it out in the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup Finals. This was an unprecedented moment and never before had the side received attention on such a scale.
Suddenly the women’s team was in news with names like Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami and Harmanpreet Kaur becoming a household name in no time. The abrupt popularity that the women’s team received was a welcome sign and a harbinger of better days to come. But more importantly, it bought with the heavy weight of the country’s expectations.
As the ICC Women’s T20 is upon us, we take a look at how this young and hungry Indian side will perform in the extravaganza that will be played at the Caribbean land.
Australia, India, Ireland, Pakistan, New Zealand
The Indian Women’s team yearning to seek redemption for themselves, after a heartbreaking 9 run-loss in the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 in England. Winning the ICC Women’s World T20 in the Caribbean might compensate for the last year’s ghosts.
This time around, the women are positioned in a somewhat tricky group. They feature alongside some of the T20 heavy-weights in the form of Australia and New Zealand. The teams from Oceania are ranked No.1 and No.2 teams in the new ICC Women’s T20I Team Rankings respectively. These fixtures would be the litmus test for the young Indian team.
The third team India confront arch-rivals Pakistan, in what will be a treat masses from both the neighbouring countries look forward to eagerly. Pakistan has an appetite of springing up upsets. In fact, they beat India in the World T20’s last edition.
Lastly, it would be Ireland who they face. The Europeans qualified in the competition after overcoming fellow European side, Netherlands, in the qualifiers.
Whereas they would be confident of defeating Ireland, there will be immense pressure against Pakistan. If they overcome these two teams and just about manage to beat even of the Aussie-NZ matches, they would easily proceed in the next stage of the competition. This is exactly why the opening contest against New Zealand will be the key for Indians.
In this edition of the World T20s, the Indian selectors have bet big on the youngsters, leaving some of the more experienced players back home. To put this into perspective, 7 of the fifteen team members have played less than 15 T20s. These include the likes of Taniya Bhatia, Jemimah Rodriguez, Pooja Vastrakar, Radha Yadav, Arundhati Reddy, and Manasi Joshi.
November 5:– India beat defending champion West Indies in ICC WOMENS T20 WORLD CUP practice match by 5 wickets.Smiti Mandhana made 32 runs in 20 balls… pic.twitter.com/6G5U15MI1O
— Prime News24×7 (@ONEWS01130500) November 5, 2018
The onus would be on the veterans like Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami to integrate them into big-ticket matches. The return of the latter from an injury would thus be a positive sign for the Indian team.
Undisputedly, India’s strengths are their batters and spinners. Although traditionally being a pro-ODI side, Indian Women’s team have evolved well to themselves in the 20-over format. And the batters like Mandhana and Kaur have been a revelation in the space nonetheless. They have a perfect combination of hard-hitting players in Kaur, Mandhana, Rodriguez whereas in Mithali Raj, they have a steady presence.
The influx of young players means that the fielding department has improved drastically and could translate into a big strength for the side.
Poonam Yadav can be considered India’s T20 spinning specialist and would give an edge for her team, especially as the West Indies pitches are bound to be supportive for spinners.
Yadav was recently crowned as the World No.2 by ICC. Along with her, Harmanpreet Kaur also has the veteran Ekta Bisht and a young Radha among her ranks as her left-arm spin options. The cherry on the cake is their height differences that make it possible to bowl at different angles.
A major weakness (which could also become their strength) is the addition of too many inexperienced youngsters. Without a doubt, they are a bunch of highly talented youngsters. But then, how well they handle pressure on the big platform, especially in the latter stages of the event is worthy of scepticism.
Overdependence on Mandhana
Next, although the team is well balanced, like the Indian men’s team, the women’s team have a tendency of relying too much on one of their high-achieving players – Smriti Mandhana.
She has a big responsibility of bringing in some quick runs. But then, if Mandhana goes down early in the match, the team may face run-rate issues. As a result, it will be down to captain Harmanpreet Kaur and the teenager Jemimah Rodriguez to share the power-hitting responsibilities. Also, the team sometimes tends to underperform in the pace department, which later puts an undue pressure on the spinners.
Women’s World T20 History
A semi-final appearance in the 2009 and 2010 each is the best result the Indian Women’s team have managed to achieve. They have consistently failed to make it big in the newest form of cricket, bowing out of the knockout stages. Their last campaign, the 2016 World T20 which was hosted in India, was also a disappointing event. They finished fourth in the group stage and thus did not qualify for the semifinals. India could manage only one win (against Bangladesh) and lost the three others to the West Indies (the eventual champions), England and Pakistan. They will be eager to change this, though, in the coming 2018 ICC Women’s World T20.
Past Results: W W W NR W L W W L W
*W-wins, L-Loss, NR- No Result
SPECIAL: The very stylish @mandhana_smriti speaks about her maiden T20 ton, what T20 leagues have taught her and how she has her eyes set on the Women’s T20 World Cup – by @RajalArora
Full Video Link —> https://t.co/iqd8b865Am pic.twitter.com/qVCNkfIbit
— BCCI (@BCCI) August 14, 2018
India will have the advantage of momentum with them, as they enter into the World T20 at the back of a 4-0 T20I series win over Sri Lanka. Another good omen for them has been a strong warm-up campaign prior to the big event, where they have defeated South Africa and the defending champions West Indies. However, a chip on their shoulder would be the loss in the Asia Cup final against Bangladesh. They had also lost out to their neighbours in the group stages of the competition as well.
India vs New Zealand, Guyana | 20:30 (IST), 9 November
India vs Pakistan, Guyana | 20:30 (IST),11 November
India vs Ireland, Guyana | 20:30 (IST), 15 November
India vs Australia, Guyana | 20:30 (IST), 17 November
Indian Players to Watch out for
Although India has a talented bunch of cricketers, there are a few that stand out, especially in the T20 setup.
The first Indian T20 specialist that comes to mind is a 22-year-old marauding batswoman – Smriti Mandhana. Smriti came to prominence after a double century that was followed by a brilliant Women’s World Cup campaign. Her consistent batting was enough to convince the selectors to name her the vice-captain of India’s T20 team. Smriti Mandhana is that kind of player that gives your team an instant edge over your opponent.
Although just 22, Smriti has already become a senior member of the team. She is known for her performances in the longer format of the sport. However, the Maharashtrian girl could be equally devastating in T20s, a fact that was evident in the Women’s Cricket Super League, where her batting antiques were on full display. For her team, Western Storm, she amassed 421 runs in 9 matches, as a result, finishing as her team’s highest scorer.
In fact, she averaged at 60.14 and possessed an enviable strike rate of 175 – the most by any batswoman in the tournament. To add to an already long list of records, she was only the second player to score a century with already hit 45 fours, 21 sixes and an 18-ball half-century in that time span of nine innings. Do we have to say any further?
Jemimah Rodriguez is another batting gem produced by Mumbai. Only 18, don’t be fooled to disparage this little batting sensation. Although a bit inexperienced in the international circuit, she has shown maturity beyond her years. In fact, her lack of international game time makes her unpredictable in the eyes of the opponents, as they simply don’t know how to handle her. This was evident in the warm-up match against South Africa, Rodriguez scored a brilliant half-century.
As a result, Rodriguez is considered India’s secret batting weapon against opponents. Jemimah rose to prominence by becoming only the second Indian woman, after Smriti Mandhana, to score a double century.
An aggressive batswoman, she is also capable of building partnerships when needed. As a result of this, she can be used as an opener, in the middle order or at No. 4 position, thus demonstrating her versatility.
Many reckon her to be a true modern-day batter who can score runs all across the ground. She has an extraordinary propensity of picking the length of balls quickly. That gives enough time to get in excellent playing positions from where she can simply slot the ball wherever she desires.
What They Said
“Expectations will be high back home,” Harmanpreet Kaur, India’s World T20 captain, said recently.
— Women in Blue Team India ?? (@iwomeninBlue) October 29, 2018
“I am happy that I will be opening the innings in this World Cup though I am not really fond of this format. I feel shackled when batting at No. 3 in the ODIs, given the different kind of responsibilities,” Mithali Raj said in an interview last month.
“The good thing (about the team) is the youngsters – they are fearless. I don’t feel them succumbing under pressure,” said India Women’s new coach and former Indian cricketer Ramesh Powar.
The Indian Roaster
Harmanpreet Kaur (captain), Smriti Mandhana (Vice Captain), Taniya Bhatia (Wicket-Keeper), Ekta Bisht, Dayalan Hemalatha, Mansi Joshi, Deepti Sharma, Veda Krishnamurthy, Mithali Raj, Arundathi Reddy, Jemimah Rodrigues, Pooja Vastrakar, Anuja Patil, Radha Yadav, Poonam Yadav.