Indian women’s tour of Sri Lanka, 2022
India’s four medium pacers on tour – Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar, Renuka Thakur (above, center) and Simran Dil Bahadur – have the combined experience of 34 ODIs © Getty
In many ways this is a new beginning for India. They dive into the new ICC Women’s ODI Championship cycle with a clean slate and without their talismanic captain Mithali Raj, who, earlier this month, hung up her floppy hat for good. If you add the unexplained absence of two experienced bowlers, Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey, the void and the associated transitional challenges look even bigger.
But as women’s cricket’s Commonwealth Games start this July prioritizing T20s and with a World Cup eight months away, captain Harmanpreet Kaur, vice-captain Smriti’s new all-formats leadership group, looks in a strange way. There’s also a diminutive, almost well-established vibe. Mandhana and head coach Ramesh Powar. Earlier in their six-month association, dating back to 2018, the partnership saw a seven-match T20I winning streak, reaching a semi-final exit at the World Cup in the Caribbean. Since then, T20 has been the format in which India’s women have consistently threatened to become world-winners but have failed to garner trophies.
Now in the evaluation phase of this new chapter in Indian cricket, the leadership is confident in their young squad, and on the same page that their first-choice XI guarantees a fair run to produce favorable results. With two global tournaments, consistency – in opportunities and performances – is a matter of discussion, and to this effect, India’s eyes are on multi-faceted players who can bring something extra to the table.
“At the moment we are trying to assess where we stand as a team and where we need to reach [in order] To be able to beat all the teams in an ICC tournament,” Powar said on Saturday (June 18) before the team went to Sri Lanka. So this series will give us an opportunity to challenge some of the players. We are looking forward to our next eight months. Trying to plan according to the conditions that we are going to face going forward. It is more of a planning phase right now. We will go ahead with those plans as we go ahead with the series and tournament.”
“Definitely we will see in T20″ [play] Our first combination, give them as many games as possible.” Captain Harmanpreet said. “In ODIs, we still have a little time to prepare for the next World Cup. [in 2025] And this is where we will see if we can give every player a chance in the team.”
“To add to this,” shouted Powar, “we will freeze the combination of our XI that will participate in the Commonwealth [Games] So that we are confident to go ahead in the tournament. And the players will have confidence that they are going to play in the first game.”
“I think we’re seeing continuity, we’re seeing [a] The habit of winning and for that we all came together – as captain, coach and vice-captain,” Powar said of the team’s approach. “We have already spoken to BCCI, already VVS Laxman, cricket Spoke with the chief. [at NCA], There are things going on, we are trying to work on our fielding, our fitness and take our players to the next level. That’s what we’re trying to achieve and moving forward, you want to win the World Cup but it’s important that you build a team that can compete in every situation, against every opponent.”
In Sri Lanka, the Indian team will play three T20Is against the hosts – which will be their only preparation before CWG 2022 – and three ODIs, which will be part of IWC 2022-25. In preparation, the selected team gathered for a week long camp at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. Apart from fitness assessment and practice, his efforts in intra-squad games, however, were hampered by bad weather.
That said, the squad’s preparations have been pretty healthy as most of the players in the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy were involved with their home sides a fortnight after India’s group-stage exit from the 2022 ODI World Cup. This was followed by a four-match Women’s T20 Challenger on the sidelines of the IPL 2022 playoff week, in which Harmanpreet’s Supernovas won for the third time.
While a slew of relatively unknown names attracted attention in the two competitions, equal attention was paid to what the international regulars were doing. The emergence and re-emergence of offspinners in the form of Shafali Verma and Harmanpreet Kaur, the superior strike-rate of the rejected Jemimah Rodrigues and the impressive glovework of Yastika Bhatia were all talking points of an equally brief home season, with the multi-faceted player now rapidly becoming one. Necessity rather than luxury, especially in the shortest format. And in Harmanpreet, nothing pleases the captain more.
“… not just me, this season we have seen Shefali [Verma] Also doing well with the ball. As a captain I’m very open to new ideas and I’m certainly looking forward to giving opportunities to any player who, you know, can contribute to the other department… I didn’t get that much [of a] chance to bowl [in the 2022 World Cup]But whoever is doing well this time, I will definitely give him a chance to prove himself.”
In the absence of Goswami and Pandey for the IWC ODI, and with senior all-rounder Sneh Rana now confirmed “relaxed” from the point of view of managing the players’ workload ahead of the 2022-23 season, Harmanpreet said the Sri Lanka series would be four youngsters. Be the “ideal platform” for fast bowlers to raise their hands and be counted.
Harmanpreet said, ‘If we talk about our bowling unit, then this is the time when they (inexperienced bowlers) will get the responsibility. “For me it is a great opportunity to build a good team. Sri Lanka is not going to be an easy tour for us but it is very important that we go and deliver whatever we are planning. As a unit That’s what we are looking forward to.”
Powar said: “When you move into a transitional phase, you have to give young players an opportunity to cement their place. For that as a support staff we look to support through the NCA, or skill coaches. Let’s try that they should win.It is the right time for young players to take advantage of that opportunity and do well going forward.
India’s four medium pacers on the tour – Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar, Renuka Thakur and Simran Dil Bahadur – have combined experience of 34 ODIs while Meghna is still uncapped in T20Is.
“You have seen from the Australia tour, we have introduced Renuka and Meghna Singh, we have also introduced some bowlers in the system. So, it will take a while to see the results because they have to focus on their fitness and [gain] match experience.
“As far as Jhulan and Shikha are concerned, I think they have done a great job over the years and the BCCI and selectors can update on their fitness and everything. As of now, Shikha and Jhulan are not traveling with us. So, whoever the bowlers are out there – we are going with four fast bowlers – you will see their results. Pooja Vastrakar has been an excellent bowler for the last six months. Going forward, we will try to accelerate the improvement of this fast bowling attack,” he concluded.