Preview | India U-19's preparation for the big event
Written By: Ritwika Dhar
Picture Courtesy: BCCI Women
With the inaugural ICC Women's U-19 T20 World Cup not being far away, India's preparations have begun. Here's what they are up to.
UNDER-19 T20 TROPHY
India has a decade-long established U-19 domestic system since women's cricket came under BCCI in 2006. The likes of Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, and Richa Ghosh are the fruits of this system. The 50-over competition has been the pinnacle of it. But the under-19 T20 competition is only introduced recently in the 2018-19 season with 35 teams where Uttar Pradesh won the whole thing.
But since then, in October this year, the U19 T20 competition played for the 2nd time. It took place from 1st October to 17th October. Comprising 36 teams divided into 6 groups, Madhya Pradesh ended up being the champions by defeating Karnataka with a 26-run margin in the final. Madhya Pradesh captain was in her league.
T20 CHALLENGERS TROPHY
After the U19 T20 Trophy, the U-19 girls are having a flurry of games lined up. The U-19 Challenger Trophy has recently been played at Goa between November 1 and November 7. 4 teams - India A, India B, India C, and India D locked horns in a one-round round-robin league format at Goa.
As teams India C and India B won 2 of the 3 matches each, both of them qualified for the final game. On the other hand, India D and India A with one win, each in their pockets locked horns in the third-spot deciding match. India A beat India D by 46 runs to clinch the 3rd spot. Whereas the table toppers India C, led by Niki Prasad ended up being the champions. They defeated India B by 5 wickets. Although India B lost in the final, their captain Shweta Sehrawat played a pivotal role in their final run. She scored the most number of runs in the tournament – 163 runs in 4 matches. Sonam Yadav was the highest wicket-taker with 7 scalps to her name.
After this, international exposure comes for the India U-19 girls. The quadrangular T20 series will be played between India A, India B, Sri Lanka, and West Indies under 19 teams at Vizag from November 13 to November 19. India C and India B captains Niki Prasad and Shweta Sehrawat were rewarded with captaincy of India A and India B teams respectively in this quadrangular series. Here are the squads:
India U-19 A: Shweta Sehrawat (C), Soumya Tiwari (VC), Roshini Kiran, Shikha Shalot, Sonia Mendhiya, Hurley Gala, Archana Devi, Hrishita Basu (WK), Mahek Pokar (WK), Sonam Yadav, Parshavi Chopra, Titas sadhu, Bidisha Dey, Yashasri, Jintimani Kalita
Standby players – Khushbu Kumari, Aishwariya Singh, Vaishnavi Sharma
India U-19 B: Niki Prasad (C), Najla CMC (VC), Ishwari Savkar, Rama Kushwah, G Trisha, Brishti Maji, Chandasi K, Soumya Verma (WK), Nandini Kashyap (WK), Mannat Kashyap, Parunika Sisodia, Falak Naz, Shabnam, Vasuvi Fishta, Mithila Vinod
Standby players – Garima Singh, Raghvi Bist, Nirmiti Rane
West Indies U-19: Ashmini Munisar (C), Trishan Holder (VC), Asabi Callendar, Kenika Cassar, Jahzara Claxton, Naijanni Cumberbatch, Jannillea Glasgow, Realeanna Grimmond, Zaida James, Djenaba Joseph, KD Jazz Mitchell, Shalini Samaroo, Shunelle Sawh, Lena Scott, Kate Wilmott
Sri Lanka U-19: Vishmi Gunaratne (C), Sanjana Kavindi, Umaya Rathnayake, Rashmi Nethranjali, Rashmika Sewwandi, Dewmi Vihanga (VC), Manudi Nanayakkara, Sumudu Nisansala, Pamoda Shaini, Vidushika Perera, Dulanga Dissanayake, Rishmi Sanjana, Nethmi Senarathne, Harini Perera, Vihara Sewwandi
Sri Lanka international Vishmi Gunaratne will be leading the Sri Lankan under-19 side in this quadrangular side. She made her senior team debut in the CWG Qualifier and her ODI debut against India this year. She has also represented Sri Lanka in the Commonwealth Games. This young top-order bat has scored 110 international runs in 11 innings. Her international experience will be crucial for the Lankan side in this series and the WC.
After the quadrangular series, the West Indies U19 side will play 2 matches against New Zealand U19 side on November 22 and 24 in Mumbai. After this, the next series for the Indian U19 girls is the 5-match T20 series against New Zealand's under-19 side at Mumbai from 27th November to 6th December.
On 16th November, it was announced that the India U19 side will play a 5 match series in South Africa, against the home U19 side, just before the world cup, from Dec 27 to Jan 4.
Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh picked in the U-19 WC squad
The India Under-19 side coached by Nooshin al Khadeer has registered an authoritative 5-0 T20 series victory over New Zealand Development squad in Mumbai. Where it was assumed that this well-oiled bunch will make the cut in final squad of the inaugural women’s U19 T20WC. The inclusions of Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh came as the biggest surprises.
Shafali Verma will be leading the U-19 side and Shweta Sehrawat has assigned to be her deputy who has been leading the U19 side in last 2 series. Also dynamic wicket-keeper bat Richa Ghosh has been added. As there's no restriction to play the international players in the team who are eligible, the addition of Shafali and Richa will surely boost the chances of India to lift its first Women's Cricket World Cup. And also these stars will add a brand value to the World Cup. But the bigger question arises- Is Shafali ready to captain a side what she barely knows about? Also both Richa and Shafali's inconsistency has been an issue for them in the senior side. So for both of them in particular, the U19 WC is a dress rehearsal before the Senior T20 World Cup stages in February.
India Squad: Shafali Verma (C), Shweta Sehrawat (VC), Richa Ghosh (WK), G Trisha, Soumya Tiwari, Sonia Mehdiya, Hurley Gala, Hrishita Basu (WK), Sonam Yadav, Mannat Kashyap, Archana Devi, Parshavi Chopra, Titas Sadhu, Falak Naz, Shabnam MD.
Standby- Shikha, Najla CMC, Yashashree.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Soumya Tiwari – MP and India A captain Soumya Tiwari has been exceptional this season. She was not only the highest run-scorer and 2nd highest wicket-taker in the U19 T20 Trophy but also the 4th highest run-getter in the Challengers Trophy. Her all-round ability will be crucial for the India A side.
Shweta Sehrawat – Delhi skipper Shweta Sehrawat was brilliant with the bat in the Challengers trophy. She led her team to the finals and topped the run chart. She was also the only player to score more than 150+ runs and scored the most number of fifty in the Challengers Trophy – 2.
Hurley Gala – Mumbai’s pace bowling all-rounder Hurley Gala is THE player to watch out for. The all-rounder is a powerful striker of the ball and bowls at a decent pace sharing the new ball and having the death-bowling duties.
Sonia Mendhiya – Haryana skipper spin all-rounder Sonia Mendhiya has been a consistent performer in the domestic for the past 2 under-19 seasons.
Titas Sadhu – Bengal skipper Titas Sadhu is a tall, pace sensation to watch. She leads from the front as the Bengal U-19 skipper and has a knack for doing damage with the new nut. She is a technically sound batter who absorbs the pressure well.
Jintamani Kalita – Assam pacer Kalita had an impactful tournament. Though she only got 3 wickets in 4 matches but had the best economy of 3.64 and bowled the most number of dots - 56 and the most number of maiden overs - 2.
Hrishita Basu – Bengal's wicket-keeper batter Hrishita Basu caught the eye being the most attacking batter with the best strike rate of 132.25 in the tournament. The tournament wasn't much high scoring with two 120+ totals and 1 130+ total, her attacking approach will be crucial for India in the World Cup and in the future too. As in the senior side, we don't have many attacking keepers like Richa Ghosh. So, if she keeps this form we can see her in the senior side not that far.
Mithila Vinod – Karnataka pacer Mithila Vinod is another pacer in the strong upcoming pace battery.