With an average age of just under 23 in a squad featuring four teenagers, the Indian team for the T20 World Cup is awash with youthful energy, which is enhancing both on-field performances and off-field team bonding.
There are four teens into the squad, with Jemimah Rodrigues and Radha Yadav, both 19, as well a 16-year-old prodigy Shafali Verma as well as Richa Ghosh, who fast-tracked into the squad without a T20I appearance
They bring this energy on the cricket field, with fearless performances, and off it, the team celebrates every moment. A look at the their social media showing the dressing room as a non-stop dance floor.
At 23, Smriti Mandhana, a fixture in the India team for five years, is both a veteran and a willing partner in crime to ring-leader Rodrigues. The India vice captain feels refreshed by the atmosphere in the group.
“Young players come into it with fresh thinking, they don’t have anything behind them. They know nothing. They’re very different people to we were when we came into the side at 17.
“They are very fearless, they don’t have a lot of pressure on them. They think like it’s any other match and coming into a World Cup, that’s the best thing about them,”she was quoted as saying by ICC in a media release.
The performance of the youngsters has been crucial for India in recent times, with big-hitting teen opener Verma being the cynosure of all.
A very important thing the young guns bring to the table is the enthusiasm and fun. Remember Rodrigues’ rap to mark Harmanpreet Kaur’s 100th T20I in September last year alongside Harleen Deol?
“You can think of the vibe if you see the age of our team! With that kind of age group, there has to be fun and if there’s no fun there’s something wrong with the girls,’
“It’s been like that for the last one or two years. I won’t say it wasn’t like that in the years before but since the teenagers have come, there is a different energy,” Rodrigues added.
However, one player you won’t find getting her dancing shoes on is seamer Shikha Pandey.
“I’ve got two left feet, so there’s no chance I’m joining them!” said the 30-year-old. “I just sing along.”
It seems there’s no danger of a split between young and old, with 27-year-old batter Veda Krishnamurthy loving the ride.
“This group really knows how to have fun,” she said. “It’s about making the young players feel comfortable and I’ve become one with them. We have a lot of dances, a lot of singing and a lot of things that happen.
“I think we’re the happiest team at the World Cup - although Thailand might give us some competition!”