Harmanpreet Kaur is all set to lead the Indian team for a maiden title at the Women’s World T20 in the Carribean Islands as they prepare for a tough opener against the New Zealand on Friday.
This is the first time that the Women’s World T20 is being held as a standalone event after being organised alongside the men’s event in all the past editions.
In the five attempts, India have been unable to break the title deadlock at the World T20 and their best result has been semi-final appearances in 2009 and 2010.
Captain Harmanpreet and recently-appointing coach Ramesh Powar have insisted that this team has learnt from the final loss in the Women’s World Cup in 2017 and is ready for a better battle of nerves. In fact, this squad has six World Cup debutants, something they believes brings a certain kind of fearlessness in the team.
India do not have a very competitive track record in the shortest format of the game in comparison to the ODIs where their final appearance in the World Cup in England turned out to be a path-breaking moment.
Despite the weaknesses of the past, India have shown good form recently in the lead-up to the World T20. India defeated Sri Lanka in their home and also blanked out Australia A at home.
Moroever, in the warm-up matches to the World T20, India have even brought up wins against reigning champions West Indies and England.
Opener Smriti Mandhana, on whom India will be relying heavily in the Caribbean, said the Asia Cup T20 final loss to Bangladesh in June was a timely wake-up call.
“After the setback in the Asia Cup, everyone went back and worked hard. You can see everyone is up to the mark where you need to be at the international standard,” said Mandhana, who is also the vice-captain.
“The Sri Lanka series has been really good. For me personally, I didn’t get really good scores, but one match, Harmanpreet and I didn’t score a single run and we got 170. That was brilliant.
“The bowlers too have improved massively in last three months, they are clear with their plans. And fielding wise, we are 10 per cent better than in the last World Cup,” added Mandhana, who will open alongside veteran Mithali Raj.
While Mandhana’s performance will be crucial at the top, teenager Jemimah Rodriguez, Tanya Bhatia and Harmanpreet will make up the middle order.
The spin department, led by leggie Poonam Yadav, is India’s strength while the pace department lacks experience after the retirement of veteran Jhulan Goswami.
India have failed to go past the group stage in the previous three editions and they will have to play well consistently to advance to the knock-outs.
After the opener against New Zealand, India will face Pakistan on November 11, Ireland on November 15 and three-time champions Australia on November 17.
Coach Powar, a former India off-spinner, has high expectations from his team.
“They know that if we grow as individuals, the team grows, the Indian women’s cricket grows, and people will start noticing the game in India and around the world,” Powar told the ICC’s official website.
“When you enter such tournaments, you have to break records, get noticed as an individual and team also, so I’m looking forward to that,” he added.
India squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (C), Taniya Bhatia (WK), Ekta Bisht, Dayalan Hemalatha, Mansi Joshi, Veda Krishnamurthy, Smriti Mandhana, Anuja Patil, Mithali Raj, Arundathi Reddy, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Radha Yadav, Poonam Yadav.
New Zealand squad: Amy Satterthwaite (C), Suzie Bates, Bernadine Bezuidenhout (WK), Sophie Devine, Kate Ebrahim, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jensen, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Katey Martin, Anna Peterson, Harriet Rowe, Lea Tahuhu, Jess Watkin.