Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh are set to miss out on India’s fifth T20I against Australia in Mumbai on December 20 as both will have to report to Bengaluru for a women’s U-19 camp before the team flies out to South Africa for the inaugural edition of the Women’s U-19 World Cup.
Sportstar understands that the camp will be held from December 19 to 24. Ahead of the inaugural edition of the ICC event, the India’s U-19 team will play a five-match T20 series against South Africa between December 27 and January 4 next year and thereafter, there will be a couple of warm-up games.
With the Neetu David-led selection committee naming Shafali as the captain of the U-19 team, the team management and the Board believe that it is important for both to get enough game time with the U-19 side, so that they can get into the groove before the tournament begins on January 14 next year.
As per the guidelines by the International Cricket Council, both Shafali and Richa are eligible to feature in the U-19 World Cups, but ever since the U-19 players started training earlier this year, neither Richa nor Shafali were part of any of the camps or tournaments as they both were busy with their international commitments.
It is, however, believed that this being a first-time tournament for the U-19 girls, the selectors decided to include experienced campaigners like Shafali and Richa as they feel that the duo’s presence would help the U-19 team. Both of them have been with the India senior team for quite a while and have featured in the ICC events before.
“When both of them were eligible, there was no question of leaving them out because this is a young team and the presence of two expericed campaigners will bolster the team’s chances in the World Cup,” a source in the BCCI said. “The dates of the U-19 World Cup were also not clashing with senior women’s T20 World Cup, so the selectors and the management felt that they should go ahead with the two...”
Another factor that was considered was the fact that with the senior women’s team, too, playing its T20 World Cup in South Africa in February, Shafali and Richa’s experience would come in handy. “Since they will be in South Africa from December, it will help them get a hang of things,” the source said. “The selection committee thought that their experience of playing th U-19 World Cup will also benefit them ahead of the T20 women’s World Cup and that’s a great opportunity...”
With Shafali taking over as the captain, Delhi girl Shweta Sehrawat, who was the captain of the U-19 team in the just-concluded T20 series against New Zealand, has been named as the vice-captain.
It has been decided that even the standbys will travel with the team to South Africa. The idea is to ensure that all the players are ready and can be drafted in quickly into the team in case there is a need for replacement.
India is placed in Group D alongside South Africa, UAE and Scotland. The top three teams from each group will progress to the Super Six round, where teams will be pooled into two groups of six.
The top two teams from each group will then progress to the semi-finals, which will be played on January 27 at JB Marks Oval in Potchefstroom. The final will take place at the same venue on January 29.
The senior women’s team, led by Harmanpreet Kaur, will also be in South Africa around the same time and will be involved in a Tri-series. However, with the dates clashing with the U-19 event, both Shafali and Richa will give that Tri-series a miss.