A first look at the squads | Women's T20 Challenge 2022
Written By: Ritwika Dhar
Picture Courtesy: Google Images
The BCCI has announced the squads for the Women's T20 Challenge with some interesting picks. This exhibitional tournament is coming back with the 4th and probably the last edition after being played last time in 2020, took place in UAE. The performance in the recently concluded Senior T20 Trophy has been rewarded. Also, the youth has been given priority in the selection keeping the inaugural Women’s under-19 WC in T20 format next year in mind.
It is noteworthy that 13 players out of 36 Indian players are uncapped. Each of the teams has 4-5 newcomers on their side.
From Karnataka, off-spinner Chand V, and LAP Monica Patel got the chance to play in Harmanpreet Kaur-led Supernovas. Also, Delhi's all-rounder and captain Soni Yadav again have been picked for the Supernovas side. Also, UP’s left-arm orthodox Rashi Kanojiya, UP captain teenager Muskan Malik who was the highest run-scorer in the U-19 ODI season have got the opportunity to rub their shoulders with the international stars like Deandra Dottin, Sophie Ecclestone, Sune Luus in the side.
The only Australian representation in this tournament leg-spinner Alana King is also in the 2-time champion Supernovas side. With the T20 captain of India Harmanpreet Kaur herself leading the side alongside top India players Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar, Mansi Joshi, Harleen Deol, Taniya Bhatia, Supernovas is looking like the strongest side on paper. But the biggest disadvantage one team has to face in this tournament is any of the teams has to play two back-to-back games within less than 12 hours. And this time it is Supernovas who has to face it.
If we look at the defending champion Trailblazers squad, it is a bowling heavy attack with a strong batting line-up. The batting department and the team will be led by Smriti Mandhana. India’s young sensations Richa Ghosh and Jemimah Rodrigues alongside the ever-attacking S. Meghana will be the pillars of their batting. In the bowling, India’s spin twin Poonam Yadav and Rajeshwari Gayakawad are there who will guide the young raw bowlers Renuka Singh, Odisha's Priyanka Priyadarshini, Sujata Mallik, and Maharashtra's Shraddha Pokharkar. The LAP Pokharkar has made quite a few headlines with her bowling in the domestics who can swing in both ways.
The overseas players, England's Sophia Dunkley and Hayley Mathews who are going through purple patches will be part of this team. Also, Bangladeshi pair Salma Khatun and Sarmin Akter Supta will join the Trailblazers after an inspiring world cup campaign.
But the biggest surprises are lying in the Velocity squad. It not only has a new captain and vice-captain but also has 6 uncapped players, the most in any of these teams. Deepti Sharma will be leading the side alongside Sneh Rana being her deputy.
Now this selection has been stirring some conversations as to why Sharma has been given the captaincy ahead of Sneh Rana who has barely any significant experience of leading a side except vice-captaining in 2 games in the New Zealand series and captaining the Indian T20 side for a few overs in the absence of Mandhana in the series against South Africa last year. Whereas Rana has captained the victorious Railways side in the last two T20 seasons.
Talking about domestics, the sensational Kiran Prabhu Navgire who has proved her mettle in the T20 Trophy by scoring a mountain of runs and sixes will be part of team Velocity. The fire of Navgire and Shafali Verma will be complemented by the poise of Laura Wolvaardt and Yastika Bhatia in the batting. Maharashtra wicket-keeper and talented batter Shivali Shinde also got the chance to play.
In the bowling department, notable India bowlers RAP Simran Bahadur, and LAO Radha Yadav will play alongside Proteas speedster Ayabonga Khaka and England's Kate Cross. Thailand's opening batter Natthkan Chantham also going to be part of the T20 Challenge for the 2nd consecutive time. On the other hand, Hyderabad’s vice-captain and all-rounder Pranavi Chandra, Maharashtra's leg spinner with a unique action Maya Sonawane, Aarti Kedar, and Kerala's Keerthi James are the uncapped players who made it to this year's T20 Challenge.
But some omissions who made the headlines are Shikha Pandey, Dayalan Hemalatha, Ekta Bisht, Veda Krishnamurthy, Indrani Roy, Rubia Syed, Manali Dakshini, Sushree Dibyadarshini, Sushma Verma, Anuja Patil, Devika Vaidya and the veterans Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami. The veterans Raj and Goswami were neither playing the domestic T20 this season nor they are active in T20I cricket. But the other omissions even after having plenty of runs and wickets under their belt made these inconsistent selections more questionable.
It also initiates the conversation of having a full-fledged WIPL. Given the depth Indian domestics have, all worthy talents and performers cannot be given chances in just 3 teams. When a 4-day tournament can strike a 14-crore deal of title sponsorship (My 11 Circle is this year's title sponsor), it just shows there is an interest to invest and Women's cricket's marketability. So, the talks of Women's IPL from next year are not only important but necessary for the growth of the Women’s game both globally and financially. WIPL can play a huge role in assuring the parents to encourage their girls to take cup cricket both as an opportunity to showcase their talent and taking as a full-time career option and earn money out of it.