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Posted at: Nov 9, 2018, 2:33 AM; last updated: Nov 9, 2018, 2:33 AM (IST)

Harman & Co. eye T20 crown

India enter tournament in red-hot form, start with tough game against Kiwis

India Schedule

  • India are in Group B with Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand and Ireland
  • Ind vs NZNov 9, at Providence
  • Ind vs Pak Nov 11, at Providence
  • Ind vs IreNov 15, at Providence
  • Ind vs Aus Nov 17, at Providence

Providence (Guyana), November 8

Are the Indian women cricketers ready to become world champions in the T20 format? T20 cricket is a game of chance, but India’s women have shown in recent past that they do have a vital ingredient to be successful in this format — firepower. Why, only yesterday India beat England in a warm-up match, with captain Harmanpreet Kaur smashing 62 off 32 balls, with six fours and three sixes. Last month, former captain Mithali Raj struck 105 off 61 balls in a T20 game against Australia A in Mumbai. India also possess the very attacking Smriti Mandhana — who could be key to India’s fortunes — and the teenaged Jemimah Rodrigues, an exciting prospect.

Young squad

The young Indian squad will be aiming to break away from a winless past when it launches its bid for a maiden Women’s World T20 title. The Indians have a tough game to begin with, against New Zealand, in the first standalone Women’s World T20.

India have not been very competitive in the shortest format of the sport. Their 50-over achievements have been much better in recent times, with the team reaching the 50-over World Cup final last year. 

Captain Harmanpreet and coach Ramesh Powar insist that the team has learnt from the loss in the 50-over World Cup final. They say that the presence of several youngsters, including six World Cup debutants, makes the squad “fearless”.

India have competed in five World T20 events, their best being semifinal appearances in 2009 and 2010. In the lead-up to this tournament, India have hit good form, beating Sri Lanka in their own backyard before blanking Australia A at home. Wins against reigning champions West Indies and England in the warm-up matches here in the West Indies would give them more confidence. 

Opener Smriti said, “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. 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.”

Jemimah, Taniya Bhatia and Harmanpreet make up a strong middle-order. The spin department, led by leg-spinner Poonam Yadav, is India’s strength, though the pace department lacks in experience after the retirement of veteran Jhulan Goswami. 

India failed to go past the group stage in the previous three editions and they must play well consistently to advance to the knockouts. — PTI

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

Key players

Harmanpreet Kaur

Age: 29

T20Is: 88

Runs: 1703

50s: 6

The captain is a powerful striker of the ball and has the ability to lift the team

Smriti Mandhana

Age: 22

T20Is: 47

Runs: 868

50s: 5

At 22, she’s already a senior. If she’s timing the ball well, her captain will breathe easy

Jemimah Rodrigues

Age: 18

T20Is: 14

Runs: 336

50s: 3

Was the star when India beat SL, outshining even Smriti and Harmanpreet

Great expectations

Coach Ramesh Powar, a former India off-spinner, has high expectations of 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 said. “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.

Chandigarh connection

Taniya Bhatia

Age: 20

T20Is: 20

Runs: 66

Top score: 46

Wicketkeeper-batswoman Taniya Bhatia missed out on the 50-over World Cup last year, but she will make her World Cup debut at the World T20. She has replaced a player from the region, Sushma Verma of Himachal Pradesh, in the Indian squad.

Taniya is a student of MCM DAV College, Sector 36.

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