The Indian women’s cricket team will be expecting the fresh faces to grab the opportunity with both hands and finishers to flourish in the three-match T20 series against Bangladesh beginning here on Sunday, its first international assignment in four months.
The T20 series will be followed by three ODIs beginning July 16.
The Harmanpreet Kaur-led side was last in action at the T20 World Cup in South Africa where it endured a narrow loss to Australia in the knockout phase.
In an era where most male cricketers live out of a suitcase due to a relentless schedule, the members of the Indian women’s team have had a lot of time to reflect and work on their game.
The last competitive event for the Indian players was the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL) in March.
India, which now has all the resources at its disposal, has not been able to take its game to the next level and match mighty Australia on a regular basis.
The team needs to improve on various aspects including fitness, bowling and the lack of finishers which come at a premium in the shortest format.
The star performers of the team over the past 12 months - pacer Renuka Thakur and wicketkeeper Richa Ghosh - are not part of this side due to injury and fitness issues, respectively, providing an opening for the rookies to impress.
The seasoned Deepti Sharma will be expected to play the finisher’s role in Ghosh’s absence with Pooja Vastrakar and Amanjot Kaur also needing to chip in with quickfire knocks towards the end of the innings.
Yastika Bhatia and the uncapped Uma Chetry are the two wicketkeeping options in the side. Yastika is expected to start on Sunday and needs to bat a lot quicker than her current strike rate of 85.38.
Bangladesh should not pose a lot of problems to India but pressure will be on opener Shafali Verma who has often been found wanting against the short ball since making her international debut in 2019.
The absence of left-arm spinners Radha Yadav and Rajeshwari Gayakwad can hand maiden caps to 20-year-old Anusha Bareddy and Rashi Kanojiya.
The series will also be a comeback for pacer Monica Patel and Meghna Singh will be eager to cement her place in the side after warming the bench for the most of the last season.
Nooshin Al Khadeer, who guided India U-19s to the World Cup title and more recently the U-23 unit in Hong Kong, has been named interim coach for the tour with Amol Muzumdar’s full-time appointment yet to be formalised.
The players trained at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru before leaving for Bangladesh. All games will be played at the Shere Bangla National Stadium.
“Bangladesh are a very good side, they always play good cricket in home conditions. We are ready for the challenge. We have had two three days to prepare and we feel prepared in all the departments,” said Harmanpreet on the eve of the game.
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