ICC Women’s World T20 2018: India squad analysis

India will get their campaign underway against New Zealand in Guyana.

Indian women's team
Indian women’s team. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The ICC Women’s World T20 is set to kick off in the Caribbeans on Thursday, November 8, and India will be playing their first match against New Zealand at the Guyana National Stadium in Providence. They are in Group B of the tournament and are clubbed with arch-rivals Pakistan, defending champions Australia and Ireland.

The other group features hosts Windies, England, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and only the top two teams from each group will advance to the semi-finals. The final will be played at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound on November 24.

Historically, the Women in Blue haven’t done well in the tournament. Having played in all five editions since 2009 when the tournament was held for the first time, India haven’t made to the finals even once. Their best performance came in the 2009 and 2010 editions when they lost to New Zealand and Australia, respectively, in the semis. India have played 21 games in the women’s World T20 so far but have won only nine of them. Can India better their records in the upcoming edition?

Young look to the squad

The selectors have chosen a team this time which is more on the younger side. The average age of the side is 24 with only two players – Mithali Raj and Ekta Bisht – in their 30s. Eight players in the squad are yet to turn 25 while six have never played in an ICC tournament earlier. Picking a lot of youngsters is not a bad thing to do for they carry less baggage and fear when playing out in the middle, besides the fact that they are fitter.

However, when it comes to the Indian eves, they have been more burdened by expectations after finishing as the runners-up in the 2017 World Cup in England after losing closely to the hosts in the final. The Indian women’s run in the ODIs in the recent times has been more of a roller-coaster ride though in the T20Is, the team has done better.

In the last five series they have played – be it bilateral or multilateral – India have won on three occasions while in the Asia Cup, they lost to Bangladesh in the final. In the remaining one which is a tri-series featuring Australia, England besides India, the Asians failed to qualify for the finals. India are currently ranked fifth in the ICC’s list of teams in women’s T20Is with Australia, New Zealand, England and the Windies in front of them.

Ramesh Powar‘s appointment as the head coach has helped the team realise its high points and play in a manner which sees the players complementing each other and not get too much affected by victories and defeats.

New look bowling attack

Powar made a strong move during India’s recent T20I series in Sri Lanka which they won 4-0 by preferring newcomer pacer Arundhati Reddy over Shikha Pandey and spinner Radha Yadav over Ekta Bisht. Pandey was supposed to be spearheading India’s pace attack after the seasoned Jhulan Goswami decided to hang up her boots but she was eventually excluded from the squad.

In the spinning department, the presence of the experienced Bisht and Poonam Yadav along with teenagers Radha Yadav and Jemimah Rodrigues, the in-form batter who also bowls effective off-break, makes India’s bowling look stronger. The conditions in Guyana where India will be playing all their four league matches could also see bowlers like Bisht exploiting the conditions to the fullest.

The squad chosen for the upcoming tournament says a lot about the changing approach of those having the responsibility to pick the best of the players to represent the country on the world stage. Traditionally, the Indian selectors preferred safety before anything and went for experience more than raw freshers, often citing that there is lack of enough talent in domestic cricket.

That a traditional and defensive mindset doesn’t work in the fast world of T20Is was eventually understood and India went for a squad which is young and exuberant. There could be times when such a team can deviate from the path and do mistakes leading to its own downfall but even that is a positive as far as the team’s learning curve is concerned. The Indian selectors could have opted for this squad even a few months earlier but nevertheless, it is always better late than never.

Strong batting line-up

The choice of Taniya Bhatia, the only wicket-keeper in the side who is just 20 and bats high up in the order, also lends a depth to India’s batting. It looks strong with captain Harmanpreet Kaur, vice-captain Smriti Mandhana, veteran Mithali Raj, Rodrigues, Anuja Patil and Veda Krishnamurthy ready with their broad willows. This batting line-up looks formidable enough to take India past high scores every time they bat.

The pace bowling unit will see 19-year-old Pooja Vastrakar, who replaced Pandey in the squad, and Mansi Joshi assisting Reddy and that makes it look decent as well. Powar believes India are still not the fittest side in the business and that their skills and mental toughness will decide what distance they go in the tournament.

All in all, India have a good side to take on the best in the world and better their record in the World T20. Now it all depends to what extent they can transform their potential into actual performance on the ground.

India Women’s squad for World Twenty20: Harmanpreet Kaur (Captain), Smriti Mandhana (vice-captain), Tanya Bhatia (wicket-keeper), Mithali Raj, Jemimah Rodrigues, Veda Krishnamurthy, Deepti Sharma, Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav, Anuja Patil, Ekta Bisht, D Hemalatha, Mansi Joshi, Pooja Vastrakar and Arundhati Reddy.

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