The knockout stage of the Senior Women's One-Day Trophy is all set to commence from Saturday (November 13) in Bengaluru. While the tournament started with 37 teams fighting for the coveted trophy across various cities, 11 teams have sealed their place in the business end of the tournament courtesy of some consistent performances in the league matches.
With the Indian team set to tour New Zealand for a series before the much-awaited World Cup in March, the domestic tournament will provide the players with an opportunity to showcase their talent and stake a claim for themselves in the Indian squad.
After coming agonisingly close in the last 50-over World Cup in England in 2017, the Indian team will aim to go a step further and win the elusive title in the next five months. The team management and skipper Mithali Raj will look to iron out minor chinks in their armour before the world event and address the glaring issues that could hamper their chances in the iconic tournament.
With the team struggling with stability and much-needed impetus in the middle order, along with the lack of wickets from spinners, we take a look at five players to watch out for in the tournament that can help the Women in Blue plug in the gaps before the high-voltage competition.
The leading run-scorer in the league stage, Uttar Pradesh batter Muskan Malik has shouldered the bulk of the team's batting responsibility and amassed 360 runs in five innings at an average of 90. The right-handed batter has been in sublime form all throughout the tournament and has smashed three scintillating hundreds to help UP win four out of the five games and qualify for the knockouts.
After going through the grind of age-group cricket and performing exceedingly well, the youngster was named captain of the side for this season. UP will lock horns against Odisha in the pre-quarterfinal and will look to their skipper to continue her fine form.
An all-rounder from Maharashtra, Devika Vaidya has been in and out of the national side in the last couple of years. The 24-year old is one of the most exciting youngsters in the domestic circuit and picked up seven wickets in five innings. While she has not set the tournament on fire with her batting prowess, the southpaw has been one of the mainstays in the middle order for Maharashtra.
With Poonam Yadav struggling for form at the international level, Devika could be an option for the Indian side in the world event. Her ability to bat in the middle order and her athletic fielding could work well in her favour.
D Vrinda has been one of the consistent players in the league stages of the tournament and scored 340 runs in four innings at an average of 170 for Karnataka. The opening batter smashed two centuries against UP and Pondicherry in the first two games to help her side record emphatic wins and start the competition in a commanding fashion.
With the wickets in Bengaluru known to assist stroke-play, Vrinda will be a vital cog in the batting unit to negate the swing with the new ball.
One of the most experienced players in the Karnataka side, Chandu V, is weaving her magic in the ongoing tournament and scalped 12 wickets in four innings at an average of 10.41 and an economy rate of 3.34. The off-spinner has wreaked havoc in the league match against Saurashtra and picked 5-17 in her spell to bundle out the opposition for 95 runs.
Chandu will be critical to the fortunes of the Karnataka side and will look to provide the team with crucial breakthroughs to dent the opposition in the middle overs.
Rashi Kanojia is second in the list of leading wicket-takers in the tournament, with 13 wickets in five innings at an average of 12.61. The left-arm spinner has been one of the standout performers for UP in the past couple of seasons and is often used as a new ball option.
Kanojia has been on the national selectors' radar for a while and has often been a part of the various camps and India A team. With the spinners struggling for wickets, consistent performances in the knockout games could help the Women in Blue with an additional option before finalising the squad for the World Cup.