Commonwealth Games Cricket 2022: 5 Players who can help India win the Gold medal
India, one of the finalists of the T20 World Cup 2020, will be one of the favourites to win the T20 competition.
The Commonwealth Games 2022, which will commence on July 28 in Birmingham, will open a new chapter in women’s sports and the sport of cricket. For the first time in history, women’s cricket as well as the T20Is will be played at the Commonwealth Games.
The last time cricket was played in the mega event was in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur. The 50-over format was used, on that occasion, and Shaun Pollock’s South Africa won the gold medal after beating Australia, led by Steve Waugh, in the final.
India, one of the finalists of the T20 World Cup 2020, will go into the Commonwealth Games as one of the favourites to win the event. They have some of the best players in the world, and also have depth and balance in their 15-member squad. India are in Group A, which also consists of Australia, Pakistan and Barbados. The competition will commence on July 29 at Edgbaston.
1. Shafali Verma
Shafali Verma, the 18-year-old opener, is one of the best T20I batters in the world. She was India’s top scorer in the 2020 T20 World Cup, scoring 163 runs in five matches at an average of 32.60 and a strike rate of 158.25 with a top score of 47.
Shafali is a naturally aggressive player who takes on bowlers during the powerplay, exploiting the field restrictions, and providing India with the needed start. This makes her one of the best opening batters in white-ball cricket. She also currently stands at number five in ICC T20I Batting Rankings.
Shafali has played 32 T20Is and scored 753 runs at a strike rate of 139.18 and an average of 24.29. As she was in the World Cup, her contributions would be key for India in Birmingham. If she gets going, she can make the game her own.
2. Harmanpreet Kaur
The India captain and one of the most explosive hitters in women’s cricket, Harmanpreet Kaur, is always one of the most influential players in the Indian team. With over 100 T20Is under her belt, her experience in the game as a captain and an all-rounder will be key for the team.
Kaur is a middle-order batter, who has come out and rescued the Indian innings, time and again, with some counter-attacking knocks. She has a reputation for having the ability to clear the boundary ropes with ease and up the ante when needed.
The India captain went through a lean patch with the bat since the 2018 T20 World Cup as she was struggling for runs. But in 2022, she has scored 104 runs in four matches at an average of 52.00, which is her highest in a calendar year in the format.
3. Deepti Sharma
Deepti Sharma is one of the best all-rounders in the world across formats and one of the most valuable players for Team India. The Agra-born southpaw is India’s frontline spinner, a dependable middle-order batter, and one of the most active fielders.
In 61 T20Is, Deepti has scored 520 runs and picked up 63 wickets. She is India’s highest-ranked bowler in the format and fifth overall. She is also ranked third among all-rounders after New Zealand’s Sophie Devine and England’s Natalie Sciver.
Deepti is known for batting responsibly in the middle overs, constantly rotating the strike, and not losing her wicket cheaply. When it comes to bowling, she is a wicket-to-wicket bowler, who bowls with discipline and keeps the scoring rate in check. Her all-round abilities give India the required balance, which will be key at the Commonwealth Games.
4. Rajeshwari Gayakwad
The Karnataka-born slow left-arm orthodox spinner is one of India’s most prolific bowlers. Rajeshwari Gayakwad would be one of the first names on the team sheet for India due to her ability to pick key wickets and provide breakthroughs when the team needs them.
Gayakwad has played 36 T20Is and picked up 45 wickets at an average of 18.00 and a strike rate of 16.9, with an economy rate of 6.38. Her best innings figures of three wickets for nine runs in four overs came against South Africa in March 2021.
In this year’s Women’s T20 Challenge, Gayakwad picked up three wickets in two matches for Trailblazers. She also has a great record in overseas conditions, picking up a total of 30 wickets in South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Malaysia.
5. Smriti Mandhana
Smriti Mandhana is one of the stylish openers, with the typical left-hand batter’s elegance. She is India’s highest-ranked batter in T20Is and fourth overall after Meg Lanning, Beth Mooney and Sophie Devine. She has been one of India’s core members over the last five years and is currently the vice-captain of the team.
Mandhana’s ability to pounce on short-of-length deliveries and cash in on deliveries that are slightly wide makes her a tough opponent to bowl against. Her biggest strength is to play for long and control the tempo of the innings, which she has shown in the longer formats.
The 26-year-old has a great record in England in T20Is, scoring 119 in three matches at an average of 39.66 and a strike rate of 141.66 with a top score of 70. And she would want to carry forward her good form this time around in Birmingham.