The Harmanpreet Kaur-led side will take on Australia in the 2020 Women's T20 World Cup opener in Sydney on Friday (February 21). India look solid on paper but getting through to the semi-finals will be a demanding task considering they are placed with Australia, Bangladesh, New Zealand and Sri Lanka in Group A.
All teams will play four league games each and two top sides from each Group will qualify for the top-four. India have made it to three semi-finals, including 2018, but have never qualified for the final since the inception of the tournament.
Here’s a look at the batters and a wicketkeeper tasked to represent India at the showpiece event Down Under.
Smriti Mandhana (Form Alert - Good)
Last 10 T20Is - Runs 328 | Average 36.44 | Strike Rate 127.1
It's quite simple, the stylish left-handed opener will have to be at her best if India want to do well in the tournament. Mandhana is inarguably India's best batter, and she won't just be burdened with the responsibility of providing her team quick starts but will also have to stay in the middle and bat for as long as possible. The 23-year-old had a below-par 2018 T20 World Cup in the West Indies and will look to contribute on a larger scale in the forthcoming event. With 281 runs at an average of 40.14 and a strike rate of 126, Mandhana has a pretty good record in Australia. She was the highest run-scorer in the recently concluded T20I Tri-Series against Australia and England and will try to build on that form. No other batter has scored more runs than Mandhana (1236) in T20Is since 2018 and her experience of playing in the WBBL will also help her cause.
Jemimah Rodrigues (Form Alert - Average)
Last 10 T20Is - Runs 178 | Average 25.42 | Strike Rate 94.2
Rodrigues, who became only the second woman after Mandhana to score a double hundred in a 50-over cricket match in 2017, was rightly fast-tracked to the Indian side and made her international debut in February 2018. But to be honest, the 19-year-old batter hasn't yet lived up to her potential. She was also part of India's 2018 World T20 squad but only managed 125 runs at an average of 25 in five encounters. She started off her T20I career with a plethora of solid knocks but hasn't been at her best in the last few games. She might be only 19 but Rodrigues has already played 40 T20Is. The right-hander will probably bat at No. 3 and 4 and has got all the ingredients to build her innings. Rodrigues scores at a strike rate of 102.27 in her first 10 deliveries and it keeps getting higher and higher with the number of balls she faces. If she can hold her own, it will give freedom to the likes of Mandhana, Harmanpreet and Shafali Verma to play their natural game. Also, she is amongst the best fielders in the team.
Shafali Verma (Form Alert - Above Average)
Last 10 T20Is - Runs 260 | Average 28.88 | Strike Rate 150.3
The new girl in town! Shafali is only 16 but the aggressive right-handed opener has already shown glimpses of what she is capable of at the top order. She was dismissed for a duck on her T20I debut against South Africa but slammed a 33-ball 46 in the very next match against the same opponent. She also managed scores of 73 and 69* on the tour of West Indies, becoming the youngest Indian to score an international fifty and that helped her become a regular member of India's T20I squad. It was her 28-ball 49 that helped India chase down 174 against the defending champions Australia – the highest successful run chase for India - in the tri-series. Shafali took up cricket after watching his idol Sachin Tendulkar play his final first-class match in Lahli in 2013 and hasn't looked back since then. The Indian team management will give her the freedom to attack from the word go and if she succeeds, it will make life easier for the other batters.
Richa Ghosh (Form Alert - NA)
* Played just one T20I
The 16-year-old batter was the only surprise pick in India's T20 World Cup squad. A fearless batter from West Bengal, Ghosh made a name for herself in the 2020 Women's Challenger Trophy where she ended up as the fourth highest run-getter. She scored 98 runs in four encounters at a strike rate of 113.95 and played a couple of crucial knocks for the Mandhana-led India B on the slow surface at Cuttack. She first top-scored with 25 in a low-scoring match against India C and then a few days later, smashed a 25-ball 36 in a chase of 149 against the same opposition. Ghosh made her international debut in the final of the tri-series against Australia and made just 17. She will probably serve as a back-up but if given an opportunity, she has already showcased that she can score those tough runs.
Harmanpreet Kaur (Form Alert - Below Average)
Last 10 T20Is - Runs 153 | Average 25.5 | Strike Rate 87.4
The Indian captain calls Virender Sehwag her idol and bats with the same mantra of 'see ball, hit ball'. It was her blistering knock of 171* in the semi-final against Australia in the 2017 World Cup that completely changed the dynamics of Indian women's cricket. On her day, Harmanpreet can take out any bowling attack. Apart from leading the team, her role will be to provide that late surge, and also finish the innings when required. Harmanpreet, the only Indian female player to score a T20I century, will have to shoulder most of the responsibility in the middle overs considering how inconsistent India's middle-order has been. India have lost way too many matches because of their middle-order not performing, the last being the tri-series final against Australia, and it will be up to her to make sure the trend doesn't continue in the World T20. If needed, Harmanpreet can also chip in with her off-spin.
Veda Krishnamurthy (Form Alert - Below Average)
Last 10 T20Is - Runs 125 | Average 20.83 | Strike Rate 107.8
Veda has all the ingredients to become a match-winner for India but the right-hander from Karnataka is yet to reach her full potential, largely because of her inconsistency. The 27-year-old was horrible in the last World T20, averaging just 8 in five games. Veda averages just over 18 in T20Is and has only managed two 50-plus scores in 59 innings. She has been dismissed 24 times for a score of less than 10 in this format. In her last five T20I innings, she did score 57* against West Indies but in the remaining four was dismissed for a single-digit score. India will hope she brings her A-game and offers some support to her skipper Harmanpreet in the middle-order.
Taniya Bhatia (Form Alert - Poor)
Last 10 T20Is - Runs 38 | Average 9.5 | Strike Rate 102.7
The 22-year-old from Chandigarh is yet to set the international stage on fire with the bat, but Bhatia is one of the best wicketkeepers going around in India, if not the best. Bhatia almost quit cricket at 17 after she faced a major loss of form but her family pulled her out of the funk, and a few years later she was representing India. She hardly contributed with the bat in the last World T20 but was brilliant behind the stumps. Her batting skills in T20Is haven't been used to the fullest extent yet as she has batted only 19 times in 45 encounters, averaging just 8.68. While the team management has great confidence in her wicket-keeping skills, they surely don't trust her with bat in hand. In India's last T20I, she batted at No. 10. It will be interesting to see how India use her as batter and if they don't, you can't raise doubts over her wicket-keeping skills.