Rookie batswoman from Bengal, Rookie Richa Ghosh was the only new face in India’s 15-member squad led by Harmanpreet Kaur for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia, starting February 21.
The team, announced on Sunday, has no other surprises.
15-year-old Haryana schoolgirl Shafali Verma will be playing her first global meet following some good performances at the international level in her first season.
Richa has been rewarded for her exploits in the recent women’s Challenger Trophy, scoring 36 off 26 balls in one of the games with four boundaries and a six.
“See, in the past one year, we have taken five to six debutants. Earlier, the same team used to play but after 2017 ODI World Cup, a lot of new prospects have emerged. We feel we have nurtured five or six new players, who are playing now.
“Richa Ghosh is a new player and here the role of selectors increases,” chairman of women’s selection committee Hemlatha Kala told reporters at the press conference.
The selectors also announced a 16-member squad for a tri-series in Australia prior to the T20 World Cup, with Nuzhat Parveen being added as the 16th member. That tournament starts on January 31 and also features England.
Skipper Harmanpreet feels that playing the tri-series before the big event will be advantageous for the team.
“Before the World Cup, this series is going to be a big one for us and we will look for our best combination and with that we will give chances to newcomer also.
“As (Hemlata) ma’am mentioned, we have Richa, who did well in the Challenger Trophy and domestic cricket, so we will stick to our best XI. Before the World Cup, we will be able to decide our best XI,” Harmanpreet said.
Harmanpreet has had the experience of playing in the Women’s Big Bash League and that will help her plan better.
“I think that experience will definitely help and we know how the wickets are over there and that definitely give us extra boost (over) there,” said the skipper, who has played for Sydney Thunders in WBBL.
She also agreed that spinners have been India’s strength in bowling and it wouldn’t change much on the bouncy Australian tracks.
“We are looking for more spinners in our side and we have got that. Now the only thing is how we are going to use their strengths. They are very good and always give us breakthroughs.
“Our strength is spin and we have to stick to that and whenever we need them they will perform for us,” Harmanpreet exuded confidence.
She is well aware that 2019 didn’t start off well for them but they picked up the pieces by the end of the year.
“See, it is always about how you execute yourself. We did not execute on what we were expecting from ourselves (in the first half in 2019). But against South Africa and West Indies, we played to our potential and that is the reason we were able to get positive result,” she said.
The presence of coach W V Raman and his tactical acumen has also helped the team.
“He is a very experienced cricketer and now he is coaching us. He is someone who always helps us on how to calm ourselves in pressure situations and help each other and he is doing a good job for us and we are happy to have him in the side. His experience will help in the World Cup.”
World T20 Squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (captain), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodriguez, Harleen Deol, Deepti Sharma, Veda Krishnamurthy, Richa Ghosh, Tania Bhatia, Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gaikwad, Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar, Arundhati Reddy.
Tri-Series (16 member) squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (captain), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodriguez, Harleen Deol, Deepti Sharma, Veda Krishnamurthy, Richa Ghosh, Tania Bhatia, Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gaikwad, Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar, Arundhati Reddy, Nuzhat Parveen.