India head into the Women’s World T20 without the services of veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami who retired from the format earlier this year. With 56 wickets in 68 T20Is, Jhulan has been a pillar of India’s pace department for a some time now. Her exit from the shortest format, just three months ahead of the marquee event had left many shocked.
The Indian team management has had to take her decision in its stride and look to fill the void left by Jhulan’s departure. It has been slim pickings. The selectors have gone for a lean three-member pace battery comprising of Mansi Joshi, Pooja Vastrakar and Arundhati Reddy. Their combined experience in the shortest format is 18 games. Exactly 50 games short of Jhulan’s individual tally.
The lack of experience will be India’s biggest bane when they take on the rest of the world in the Caribbean come November 9.
Ousted coach Tushar Arothe has criticised the selection panel for its lack of foresight while picking the squad.
Arothe, who was replaced by former India spinner Ramesh Powar, said the feeble pace attack does not augur well for the team.
“My concern is the fast bowling department,” Arothe was quoted as saying by CricketNext. “I am not happy with it at all. Mansi is short of match practice, Pooja is inexperienced and we don’t have Shikha Pandey in the team. So, is the team going to play with only one pacer? And if that is the case, it’s going to backfire.”
“I don’t know what the selectors were thinking while picking the team. The big question is where are we heading when all the teams have started playing with 3-4 fast bowlers?
“Your frontline bowler is Mansi, who didn’t play in the series against Australia A. Then the bench doesn’t look that strong too. If she is your strike bowler she should have played. What if we get a bouncy wicket in the West Indies. What combination will the team go with then?” added Arothe who was forced to resign from his post after the several members of the team criticised his training methods.
This is India’s first high profile test since the ODI World Cup in 2017. Since then, the team has played 20 T20Is. While the batting has remained stable with the likes of Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana and Mithali Raj leading the charge, it is the bowling that could prove to be the difference between them and the rest.
The Caribbean conditions will be expected to be in favour of slow bowlers. However, in the shortest format the value of pacers cannot be discounted. It will be interesting to see how this team copes with the challenge. One thing, though, is certain that the outfit will miss Jhulan’s services.
Nov 9, Friday: India vs NZ
Nov 11, Sunday: India v Pakistan
Nov 15, Thursday: India v Ireland
Nov 17, Saturday: India v Australia
Nov 22, Semifinals
Nov 24, Final