Mithali Raj-led Velocity was the runners up last year in the Women’s T20 Challenge after they lost the final to Supernovas by 4 wickets. Batting first they reached 125 due to the efforts of Amelia Kerr and Sushma Verma. Supernovas were 64/5 in the 14th over, but skipper Harmanpreet scored a brilliant 51 of 37 and was heading towards a victory. Though she fell to Kerr in the last over, Radha Yadav finished the job for her team.
Women’s T20 Challenge 2019: Runners Up
Team Velocity was introduced in the Women’s T20 Challenge in the previous year. The side under the leadership of Mithali Raj defeated Trailblazers in the first match. Despite the defeat in the next, a calculated run-chase secured their place in the Final, where they lost the match by 4 wickets.
Shafali Verma has come into the limelight for her hitting abilities in Women’s T20 Challenge. She has been the face of Indian T20 side since then and her abilities to hit the out of the park in the top of the order has earned the respect from the bests of the world.
Her 487 runs came at a strike rate of 146 in blue. She even took less than 5 balls to hit a boundary (4.21). She created carnage in West Indies as well when 42-ball 73 and unbeaten 69 from 44 balls announced her arrival at world cricket. In the 19 matches she played, she faced more than 10 balls 10 times and India never lost those matches.
Her brisk but whirl-wind knocks set the tone of the matches for India. Even Smriti Mandhana’s 418 runs with a strike-rate of 120 looked blurred in front of Shafali. She didn’t bog down by the names she was facing and treated bowlers like Ellyse Perry or Megan Schutt with disdain. Megan Schutt who witnessed the carnage both in the Tri-Series and the ICC T20 World Cup even said that she doesn’t like to bowl against Verma, before the World Cup final.
Along with Verma, Velocity will depend a lot on the likes of Danielle Wyatt in the opening. The English opener has scored more than 1500 runs in T20 cricket with a strike rate of 122. She also played a major role in the opening game of Velocity, last year. Her 46 was enough to secure a victory against Trailblazers.
Mithali Raj and Veda Krishnamurthy, two seasoned campaigners for India will look forward to stabilizing the inexperienced middle order. Though Krishnamurthy has played a tournament, prior to the mandatory quarantine period, it will be interesting to watch how skipper Mithali Raj carries her game, after a break of almost 6 months.
Meanwhile, the inclusion of Sune Luss is a huge plus point for the Velocity. Apart from her leg spins she is a handy bat and the late blasts from her can be crucial as well. Velocity has a strong spin bowling contingent. They got the left-arm spinners in form of experienced Ekta Bisht and U-19 Karnataka cricketer Anagha Murali. While Ekta Bisht has the economy less than 6 in the T20, her strike rate 16.6 is impressive too.
On the other hand, Anagha Murali was the best player for Karnataka U-16 and U-19 team. Velocity got leg spinners duo of Sune Luus and Devika Vaidya. Devika Vidya bowled economically (1/21) in the last year’s final to check the runs in the middle overs.
To complete their spin bowling department, Sushree Divyadarshini is there, she will join by kiwi off-spinner Leigh Kasperek. Kasperek missed the series against Australia and she will look forward to proving her point. She is one of the leading spinners of the world cricket and had 65 wickets with a strike rate of 13. Mithali Raj will dependent upon her in the middle overs to chip in with few wickets.
Sushree had a great one year between. In the 2020 Women’s Quadrangular series, she was the highest wicket-taker with 8 wickets in 4 matches for India A along with Tanuja Kanwar. Against Bangladesh, she was the pick of the bowlers for India (2/11), and against Thailand, she got three wickets for three runs. Apart from anything, her economy of 5 in a T20 series earned her praises. Though India B lost the final of Senior Challenger Trophy to Shafali Verma’s onslaught, she bagged 7 wickets for India B from 3 matches, conceding 66 runs.
Sushree Dibyadarshini carried on her form in the Senior One Day Tournament. Though she didn’t get a wicket in the first two matches, she hit back-to-back fifties. Against Delhi, she scored an unbeaten 54 followed by a 50 against Tamil Nadu. Besides, In the Emerging Asia Cup 2019, the talented all-rounder played an instrumental role in the Indian bowling unit. After picking up back to back three wickets haul against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, she took 1/25 in her 7 overs in the final, which India won by 14 runs.
A strong spin squad doesn’t undermine the seam bowling attack either. Jahanara Alam had a great final last year and she would look to carry on the form. She came to bowl in the middle over to remove the stars like Sophie Devine and Natalie Sciver. Her double strike helped Velocity to make a come back in the game. She will be supported by Shikha Pandey who has been economical in the death overs for a year or so. Manali Dakshini is handy with the bat too.
Squad: Mithali Raj (C), Veda Krishnamurthy (VC), Shafali Verma, Sushma Verma (WK), Ekta Bisht, Mansi Joshi, Shikha Pandey, Devika Vaidya, Sushree Dibyadarshini, Manali Dakshini, Leigh Kasperek (NZ), Danielle Wyatt (ENG), Sune Luus (SA), Jahanara Alam (BANG), Anagha Murali
Players OUT: Amelia Kerr, Hayley Mathews, Komal Zanzad
Players IN: Leigh Kasperek, Sune Luus, Anagha Murali
Expected XI: Shafali Verma, Danielle Wyatt, Mithali Raj (C), Veda Krishnamurthy (VC), Sune Luus, Devika Vaidya, Sushma Verma (WK), Shikha Pandey, Jahanara Alam, Manali Dakshini, Leigh Kasperek