The One-day International series saw the good and bad side of the Indian women’s team. The first match saw them squander a winnable match situation with the middle and lower order yet again found wanting. The second and third games saw the spinners seize control of proceedings, and, then,bolstered by a match-winning knock by Smriti Mandhana in the decider, India cruised home.
There is spirit in this outfit and certainly, a template to win games.
In the slow pitches in the West Indies, Harmanpreet Kaur will be depending on those weapons to fire once again as the T20I series begins with a Sunday double-header (in terms of IST) in St Lucia.
Big-hitting opener Shafali Verma is expected to get another run despite a mixed bag of a debut series at home. This series will provide yet another opportunity for the 15-year-old to make an impact and book a place in the team that will travel to Australia for the T20 World Cup in February next year.
Mandhana, coming back after injury as well as a poor run of form by her high standards, looked in good touch in the final ODI and will be looking to spend more time in the middle. Jemimah Rodrigues continues to show how valuable she is to the Indian top-order.
It will be interesting to see if the team management experiment with another promising top-order batter in Harleen Deol.
With the bat, Kaur had a slightly underwhelming ODI series by her standards but as the captain of the T20I side she will now have extra responsibilities on her shoulder: that is when she thrives. Her counterpart Stafanie Taylor is one of the best in the business. The Windies captain has been in fine form with the bat and ball, and was the player of the series after the three ODIs.
The captain vs captain battle will be one to keep an eye on.
The hosts have middle-order problems of their own with the absence of the prolific Deandra Dottin. The positive for the Windies at the top of the order is that the bankable Hayley Matthews is back after serving a suspension and looked good during her brief stay at the crease during the third ODI.
West Indies have also bolstered their bowling arsenal with Shakera Selman making a return from injury. Chinelle Henry has also passed the fitness test after suffering a concussion in the first ODI.
With no Jhulan Goswami to spearhead the pace attack, Shikha Pandey has a crucial role to play. It will be interesting to see if the visitors do field three pacers in a game or go with a spin-heavy lineup. But for Pooja Vastrakar and/or Arundhati Reddy, they could have not hoped for a better audition for a place in the World Cup. With Mansi Joshi also vying for the second seamer role, it becomes all the more important for Vastrakar and Reddy to grab whatever chances come their way.
For senior batter Veda Krishnamurthy too, it’s now or never to show what a game-changer she can be on her day despite falling down in the pecking order. And where Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Ekta Bisht get the job done in ODI cricket, Radha Yadav has quietly made a name for herself in the shortest format with her left-arm spin.
West Indies are on a wretched run having been outclassed by England and Australia recently. The pressure will be on Taylor and Co with this series being their final assignment before the World Cup. Putting the Indian pacers under early pressure and rotating strike when spinners (led by the brilliant Poonam Yadav) bowl in tandem is vital. This is where, Natasha McLean’s runs, along with Matthews and Taylor’s, is a key component in setting a big score.
It’s little surprise that in-form India start as favourites. Managing fatigue will be an issue for both teams owing to the breakneck start to the series. (On a side note: imagine the outcry and furore if the men’s team would have been subject to the same treatment.)
WIvIND T20Is schedule
|Date||Venue||Timings in IST|
|1st T20I, November 10|| Gros Islet, St Lucia||3.30 am|
|2nd T20I, November 10||Gros Islet, St Lucia||11.00 pm|
|3rd T20I, November 15||Guyana||3.30 am|
|4th T20I, November 17||Guyana||11.00 pm|
|5th T20I, November 21||Guyana||3.30 am|
All said and done, this series is another chance to iron out some persistent issues. Remember, India have had a rollercoaster run in the shortest format. After the high of their best run before and during 2018 World T20, there was the low of the Ramesh Powar saga and a losing streak that saw them suffer whitewashes against New Zealand and England. The series against South Africa was much-needed in terms of a confidence boost but areas of concern remain evident.
India do play a tri-series in Australia before the marquee tournament but is highly unlikely that the team will field an experimental XI there. The series in Caribbean is crucial to get the combinations right, as the World Cup gets closer.
West Indies: Stafanie Taylor (c), Hayley Matthews, Chedean Nation, Chinelle Henry, Stacey-Ann King, Kyshona Knight, Natasha McLean, Shabika Gajnabi, Shemaine Campbelle, Sheneta Grimmond, Anisa Mohammed, Aaliyah Alleyne, Afy Fletcher, Shakera Selman
India: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vice-captain), Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Harleen Deol, Deepti Sharma, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav, Veda Krishnamurthy, Anuja Patil, Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar, Mansi Joshi, Arundhati Reddy.