Nearly a month after defeating England in the Commonwealth Games 2022 semifinal, an inspired Harmanpreet Kaur-led India will face England in a three match T20 International series set to begin on Saturday at Durham. Meanwhile, the hosts will view the series against India as a “fresh start” after the disappointment of their unsuccessful home campaign in the multi-sport event in Birmingham.
Although silver medallists India had a campaign to remember in Birmingham, their narrow nine-run defeat to Australia in the final exposed the perils of going with a team composition that is not batting heavy. With skipper Harmanpreet reiterating that their strategy will be rethought in the upcoming series, with an intention to field a far more balanced playing XI, some experimentation can be expected.
“In the Commonwealth Games, we did well but still there is scope for improvement,” said Harmanpreet in the press conference before the team’s departure to England.
In the final against Australia, India went in with just four specialist batters in Smriti Mandhana, Shefali Varma, Harmanpreet Kaur and Jemimah Rodrigues.
As a result, the top four were tasked with the heavy-lifting in the batting line-up. Regarding the team composition and approach they need to adopt, Harmanpreet said, “I feel no matter whatever format you are playing, you need to have six batters in the side.”
She added: “Having two-three pure bowlers and two-three all-rounders can give you a great balance to the side. We have a couple of new players to fill those areas we lacked in, like in the slog overs, when you need 10 runs or more per over.”
Kiran Navgire, who caught the selectors’ attention with an unbeaten 162 against Arunachal Pradesh in the Senior T20 Trophy earlier this year and a 34-ball 69 for Velocity in the Women’s T20 Challenge, earned an India call-up. Meanwhile, D Hemlatha will be making a comeback to the side after a strong 2021-’22 domestic season in which she scored a total of 339 runs at an average of 75. They will be some of the players India will be hoping fill the gaps with in the team.
“Before the World Cup if they can get equal chances, then you have a fair idea to select the team. We will definitely try some new things and at the same time give equal opportunities so we can make a good team,” said Harmanpreet.
Meanwhile, England also have much to look forward to as they embark on the India challenge at home without their regular captain Heather Knight, who is recovering from a hip injury. Nat Sciver, who was appointed skipper in her absence will also be absent as she announced on Thursday that she is taking a break due to mental fatigue.
As a result, wicketkeeper Amy Jones will assume the captaincy duty in the T20I series. Lauren Bell, the second-highest wicket-taker in the Hundred with 11 wickets, will most-likely make her T20I debut in the series and will be among the English youngsters to look out for alongside Issy Wong and all-rounder Alice Capsey.
Here’s what 18-year-old Capsey had to say ahead of the first T20I: “We’re really motivated... It’s a really exciting series that will present lots of challenges along the way. As a group, we’re quite excited to get into it and have to adapt and overcome those challenges.
“Obviously we lost to them in the Commonwealth Games, however that was a couple of weeks ago now and we’ve all come off the Hundred. So it’s a fresh start. It’s a new series, so it’s all to play for really.”
Harmanpreet Kaur (capt), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Jemimah Rodrigues, Sneh Rana, Renuka Singh, Meghna Singh, Radha Yadav, S Meghana, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Dayalan Hemalatha, Simran Dil Bahadur, Richa Ghosh (wk) and Kiran Prabhu Navgire.
Amy Jones (capt and wk) Lauren Bell, Maia Bouchier, Alice Capsey, Kate Cross, Freya Davies, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Sarah Glenn, Freya Kemp, Bryony Smith, Issy Wong and Danni Wyatt.
Quotes courtesy: PTI and ESPNCricinfo