Here are 6 Indian women cricketers to look out for at the 2020 T20 World Cup

From the youngest Shafali Verma to the oldest Shikha Pandey, here is what the new crop of Indian women cricketers will bring to the team as they travel to Australia for the T20 World Cup.
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The Indian women’s cricket team is all set to take part in the 2020 T20 World Cup down under in February. The 15-member squad for the tournament was announced on January 12 with Harmanpreet Kaur at the helm. The young squad will miss the services of veterans Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami who have retired from the format. However, what the team lacks in age, it makes up in experience and talent. 

Going into the tournament, India has one of the strongest batting sides with the likes of Harmanpreet, Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma and others who will put a formidable fight against the opposition. 

(Top) Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Roadrigues; (Bottom) Harmanpreet Kaur, Shikha Pandey, Poonam Yadav.

India will face tough competition in the group stage as they are placed alongside hosts and defending champions Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh, and underdogs Sri Lanka. 

Here is a look at potential players who hold the key for India to perform well down under and hopefully return with the cup.

Shafali Verma

Shafali made the national team in the series against South Africa in October 2019. Since then, the teenage batting sensation has made the headlines quite a few times - from being the youngest Indian woman to play in a T20I to breaking Sachin Tendulkar’s record of being the youngest player to score a fifty in an international match. She broke the record in her fifth international match against West Indies when she smashed 73 off just 43 balls. 

The fearless batswoman, playing her first global tournament will be an asset to the team when it begins its T20 World Cup campaign. Her attacking batting style and partnership building skills, especially with opener Smriti Mandhana, has been on display in her previous performances. With her powerful striking ability and a strike rate of over 140 in the shortest format, Shafali has the potential to be the breakout star for India at the T20 WC. 

Jemimah Rodrigues 

The 19-year-old Mumbai batswoman has been in the national setup for a while now, having represented India in 48 games. The World Cup will be her second T20 WC; she played five games in the 2018 edition of the tournament. Another batting prodigy, Jemimah has proved to be an essential feature in the side, giving stability to the top order and taking a little pressure of seasoned player Smriti Mandhana. 

Jemimah is capable of steadying the ship when others fail and her batting prowess is never a question. Her abilities to do just this were visible in the series against West Indies where she led India to victory in two games. With Mithali Raj’s absence, Jemimah has the onus to perform well at the number three position. 

Smriti Mandhana

Another youngster in the team, Smriti has been a seasoned campaigner for the Indian side. As deputy for captain Harmanpreet Kaur, she has also taken on leadership positions with success. Smriti will play a crucial role in decision-making as someone who knows the surfaces and Australian conditions having played for Hobart Hurricanes in the recently held Big Bash League. 

In 2019, Smriti scored the most runs for India in the T20 internationals. Her performances are a positive sign for the team going into the tri-series and the World Cup in Australia. 

Her playing in big tournaments will also come in handy for India, especially against strong teams like Australia, England, and New Zealand. Smriti who has won it all - from awards, records to recognition, will hope to add a WC trophy to her achievements. 

Harmanpreet Kaur 

Most eyes will be on Harmanpreet Kaur when she walks in to bat in every match. A monstrous batting performer, Harman is also a handy spinner who can get crucial breakthroughs. Her hitting exploits are well known. Her capabilities to clear boundaries frequently and with ease will surely be on display and expected from the team and the crowds. Her experience of playing the Big Bash League down under will be beneficial for her to assess the playing conditions and in team selection. If her Big Bash performances are anything to go by, we can hope to see fireworks from her bat. Harmanpreet will be leading the side for the second time in the tournament and will hope to cross the semi-final line this time. 

Poonam Yadav 

In a spin-heavy contingent, Poonam Yadav will be expected to throw in some heavyweight lifting. She is India’s most experienced bowler in this format and the leading wicket-taker with 85 wickets from 65 T20Is. Wrist spinners have had successful outings in both men’s and women’s T20s. Poonam’s right-hand leg breaks will be crucial in times when runs and partnerships are continuously flowing. 

Her economy rate in T20s is under 6, a sign of a successful bowler in the shortest format where restricting runs can be more important than wickets. With ground sizes being bigger in Australia, the batswomen will have a tough task ahead of them when trying to hit Poonam over the boundary. 

Shikha Pandey 

Thirty-year-old Shikha is now a veteran of sorts, with Jhulan Goswami having bid adieu to the T20s. Alongside pacers, young Pooja Vastrakar and Arundhati Reddy, Shikha will be leading India’s pace attack down under. Known for her ability to hit the deck hard and for her yorkers, she can be lethal in Australian conditions. With the bounce and seaming conditions of Aussie pitches, Shikha will be India’s first choice bowler with the new ball. Shikha’s previous outings in Australia have been successful and with favourable conditions, she can restrict the flow of runs in the power plays and chip in with wickets. 

(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)


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