Shikha Pandey has been recalled to the Indian team for the tri-series in South Africa followed by the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup. Team India did not have a great end to 2022 as they lost the 5-match T20I series to Australia 4-1. Their Achilles heel was the bowling department which leaked a lot of runs in all five matches. The least India conceded in a match was 172 in the third T20I.
The selection committee recently named the team that will travel to South Africa to play in a tri-series involving the hosts and the West Indies, and also the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup. Experienced seam-bowling all-rounder Shikha Pandey has been recalled to the side. The 33-year-old has experience playing 56 T20Is for India between 2014 to 2021 and she has scalped 40 wickets with an economy rate of 6.47.
Harmanpreet Kaur would like to use Shikha’s wealth of experience. It could come in handy, especially during crunch situations. Legendary former Indian cricketer, Anjum Chopra, said in a video shared on her Youtube channel that Pandey’s performances have not been great in the past few years. However, the lack of options in and around the Indian team and Pandey’s experience have worked in her favour.
She said: “I will say that they have backed experience. I won’t say Shikha Pandey has given outstanding performances in the past one-and-a-half to two years, but she is definitely experienced and because the Indian team doesn’t have options, they have gone back to Shikha Pandey.”
Anjum Chopra feels that Shikha Pandey has come in place of Meghna Singh because of her experience
Anjum Chopra also feels that Pandey could be a good replacement for Pooja Vastrakar, whose fitness could be a concern. The right-handed batter could add a few runs in the lower order. That could come in handy, especially if Vastrakar has to miss out due to injury.
“I feel Shikha Pandey has been included in place of Meghna Singh because of her experience. There are limited seam-bowling options in and around the Indian team. Anjali Sarvani is a good new player but she is not experienced. I feel Shikha Pandey has been included to balance the team if Pooja Vastrakar is unavailable.”
“I do agree that Sneh Rana could have been included but I don’t agree instead of Rajeshwari Gayakwad” – Anjum Chopra
Anjum Chopra feels that left-arm orthodox bowler Rajeshwari Gayakwad should start for the Women in Blue. The former also backed Gayakwad’s inclusion over Sneh Rana.
“I do agree that Sneh Rana could have been included but I don’t agree instead of Rajeshwari Gayakwad. In fact, I feel Rajeshwari Gayakwad should play in the first XI. Rajeshwari Gayakwad should definitely play, even if it is ahead of Radha Yadav, if the proper team combination can be created.”
Chopra was also asked if Yastika Bhatia or Harleen Deol should open for India in T20Is. She replied: “I agree Yastika Bhatia has done well in domestic cricket and leading up to the selection ahead of the Australia tour. But she wasn’t given a chance in any match. I feel the team thinks she is not in her best form, or Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana are set at the top, so there is no place for Yastika.”
Anjum Chopra also felt that Bhatia could play in the tri-series as Richa Ghosh and Shafali Verman will be with the under-19 team at the time. However, the left-handed keeper-batter might not get a chance at the top order at the World Cup.
It will be interesting to see how the team will perform on the big stage.