Under the new coaching unit and head coach Amol Muzumder, India starts their campaign against England in the T20I series. With new faces to be tested forward to make a perfect combination for next year’s T20I World Cup, the head coach has focused on positive cricket and giving importance to fielding.
India would look to take some of the momentum from the India A series, where despite losing the series, 1-2, India’s aggressive batting approach caught the eyes. While India’s batting will depend upon the top four of Smriti, Shafali, Jemimah and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur there will be some new faces to look for.
While both Shafali and Smriti have concerns against the spinners on a slow wicket, the lack of firepower in the lower order has remained the main concern for India. With Richa Ghosh and Pooja’s role as a big hitter, it would be interesting to watch how India accommodate Amanjot, Kanika or Shreyanka in the lineup.
Indian seam bowling attack will be led by Renuka Singh Thakur who has taken 31 wickets in as many matches and also claimed a five-wicket haul against England, earlier this year in the T20 World Cup. The fierce seamer who’s inswingers troubled the batters in the opening spells while she can be accurate in containing runs in the death overs.
While Pooja Vastrakar will also come in handy with the balls, it will be interesting to watch how Amanjot Kaur and Titas Sadhu perform in this series. Titas Sadhu, the Bengal seamer has climbed the ranks quickly after her performance in the U-19 T20 World Cup. In the final, against the high-flying England, her 2/6 in the 4 overs broke the English top order from which they failed to recover. 6 wickets with an average of 12.83, Titas had an economy of less than 5.
Fostered by Delhi Capitals in the inaugural WPL, Sadhu picked up 2 wickets in as many matches in the Emerging Asia Cup. In the final of the Asian Games, defending a modest total of 116 runs, her spell of 4-1-6-3 turned the match in favour of India. In the very first ball of her over she got rid of Anushka Sanjeewani, a couple of balls later Vishmi Gunaratne’s stump was uprooted.
In her 2nd over Chamari Athapaththu’s wicket meant Sri Lanka was slumped to 14/3, from where they failed to recover. With 8 wickets in the Senior Domestic T20 Tournament with an economy of less than 5 and 6 wickets in the Senior Zonal T20 Tournamnet for East Zone, including a 4 wicket haul, Sadhu can be forced to reckon with if India decides to go along with third seamer after Pooja and Renuka.
Indian spin bowling has remained an area of concern after 2020. With the new bunch of spin bowling lineup, India looks to regain the lost glory in the shorter format. Along with Deepti Sharma, one of the prominent figures in the spin bowling attack, off-spinner Shreyanka Patil and Kanika Ahuja will be the bowlers to look out for.
Shreyanka found her place in the India A side after a stellar performance in WPL. Her 62 runs for RCB, came down the order when others failed to score at a brisk pace. The offspinner in her took 6 wickets and that too was the highest for her side, best of 2/17 came against the Gujrat Gaints. In a side that had players like Ellyse Perry, Sophie Devine, Heather Knight or even Smriti Mandhana, her strike rate of 152 was the highest.
In the very first match in the Emerging Asia Cup, she picked up 5 wickets for just two runs and ended the tournament with 9 wickets in just two matches with an average of 1.66. In the Women’s CPL too she was the highest wicket-taker. In the series against England A, she defended 13 runs in the last over, the only match that India went on to win. She can fill the space of an aggressive wicket-taking bowler, which India lacks.
Both Patil and Kanika Ahuja can fix India’s pinch hitter problem. Kanika who also played for RCB showed her prominence down the order in the recent series against England A. Minnu Manni who led the India A side along with Saika Ishaque and Mannat Kashyap will carry forward the crafty legacy of the left-arm spin department.
Kashyap who had 10 wickets in the U-19 World Cup also was the 2nd highest wicket-taker in the Emerging Asia Cup after Patil. On the other hand, Ishaque who played a crucial role in Mumbai India’s title-winning campaign in the Inagaural WPL was also the highest wicket-taker in the Senior Domestic T-20 Championship with 18 wickets in 9 innings.
Harmanpreet Kaur (C), Smriti Mandhana (VC), Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Deepti Sharma, Yastika Bhatia (WK), Richa Ghosh (WK), Amanjot Kaur, Shreyanka Patil, Mannat Kashyap, Saika Ishaque, Renuka Thakur, Titas Sadhu, Pooja Vastrakar, Kanika Ahuja, Minnu Mani.
Probable XI: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Deepti Sharma, Richa Ghosh (wk), Pooja Vastrakar, Kanika Ahuja, Shreyanka Patil, Saika Ishaque, Renuka Thakur.