Team Trailblazers | Exciting players to watch out for | Women's T20 Challenge
Written By: Ankush Das, Jeet Vachharajani
Picture Courtesy: Google Images
Defending champions Trailblazers will begin their Women’s T20 Challenge campaign against two-time winners Supernovas on May 23 at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune. Led by Smriti Mandhana, they will hope to make a winning start to the competition as they look to defend the title.
Supernovas have some quality players in their ranks, including overseas stars like Hayley Matthews, Salma Khatun, Sharmin After, and Sophia Dunkley. They also have a few Indian internationals in Jemimah Rodrigues, Rajeshwari Gaikwad, Meghna Singh, and Richa Ghosh among others.
A couple of domestic cricketers will hope to make a mark for themselves amid the glaring presence of these heavyweights. On that note, let’s take a look at four unique Trailblazers cricketers to watch out for.
An enterprising batter and a leg-spinner, Dunkley lands in India on the back of a superlative knock of an unbeaten 123 runs. Riding on her breath-taking innings, Spirit Women chased down 183 runs against Barmy Army Women with seven balls to spare in the Fairbreak Invitational Tournament.
Dunkley will be a valuable addition to the Trailblazers given her ability to pace the innings according to the situation. Besides, she is also very handy with her leg breaks in the middle-overs. She boasts a good economy rate and helps to keep the run-flow in check.
The 23-year-old Surrey-born cricketer also carries significant international experience. Dunkley has featured in 23 T20Is for England, scoring 159 runs in 13 innings. She also has 19 ODIs under her belt. Her experience will come in handy for the Trailblazers, who look to defend their title.
Having a left-arm pacer (LAP) in women’s cricket is rare, and to see one in the Indian ranks is rarer. In Shraddha Pokharkar, the Trailblazers have enabled that LAP option. In fact, she is the only LAP bowler in the entire tournament.
Hailing from Maharashtra, Pokharkar had a phenomenal Senior Women’s T20 Trophy where she picked 9 wickets in 8 games at an average of just 19.4. Her dot ball% of 54 was amongst the best in the competition, especially in the Elite Group. As a tall pacer, she has a high release point and often troubles the batters with the new ball with her inswing into the right-handers.
The opener from Bangladesh had a decent outing in the Cricket World Cup 2022 and was one of the best performers in her team. She was a standout performer as she found the boundary more times than any other batter from Bangladesh in the tournament. If given a chance, she could be the ideal foil as an anchor around the likes of Smriti Mandhana, Hayley Matthews, & Jemimah Rodrigues.
The young left-arm spinner from Bengal, Saiqa grabbed headlines when she dismissed Punjab’s Taniya Bhatia and Harmanpreet Kaur on consecutive deliveries to turn the match in Bengal’s way. She also did reasonably well in the Senior Women’s One Day Challenger Trophy and Women’s Senior One Day Trophy.
Besides, the 26-year-old is a gun fielder and can also contribute with the bat in the lower order. An upcoming talent, she will be one of the few cricketers to watch out for in the upcoming Women’s T20 Challenge. Saiqa, who has worked extensively in the last few weeks alongside former Bengal cricketer Shiv Sagar Singh, will hope to use her experience if any opportunity comes her way.
It will be a learning curve for Saiqa, playing alongside some of the biggest names in international cricket. She will also hope to pick the brain of Rajeshwari Gaikwad, who is a pioneer of left-arm spin bowling.