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Litmus test awaits India as road to T20 World Cup beckons

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Last updated on 18 Jan 2023 | 02:25 PM
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Litmus test awaits India as road to T20 World Cup beckons

The tri-series ahead of the mega event provides the Women in Blue an ideal opportunity to fine-tune their skills

It has been a historic week if you're a fan of women's sport, especially women's cricket, as there are some record-breaking news that created a frenzy among all people across the globe.

Inaugural edition of the Women's U-19 World Cup✅

Meg Lanning returns to lead Australia✅

Women's IPL media rights sold for a whopping 951 crores✅

*Drumrolls, please!!

And to add a little more glamour to this lucrative list, some kilometers away from where the young kids are showcasing their skills, there are three teams fine-tuning their combinations ahead of the much-awaited T20 World Cup. 

With stakes rocketing sky-high for the three sides, here's a sneak peek into how the teams are shaping ahead of the 10-day tournament. 

India's opening conundrum 

One of the players who has been making all the noises for the right reasons has been Shafali Verma, albeit for a different India team in the land of the Proteas. 

The swashbuckling opening batter is at the helm of the Under-19 team and is expected to join the senior side ahead of the iconic tournament. With the teenager not part of the side, it opens a debate about who walks out to bat with Smriti Mandhana

While India dropped Jemimah Rodrigues from the playing XI in the last T20I against Australia in Mumbai after a string of low scores, the absence of Shafali opens a spot in the team for the Mumbai batter. 

The India team management, in all likelihood with stick with Harleen Deol at number three, and this tri-series will most probably be an audition for the two players for the one-down position once Shafali is back and available for selection. 

While the team management also has the option of including S Meghana in the tri-series, the right-handed batter is not part of the T20 World Cup squad. It would be ideal for them to give someone like Rodrigues a go at the top of the order to get acclimatised to the conditions on offer in South  Africa. 

The return of Shikha Pandey 

Another player who created a lot of buzz around social media with her surprised inclusion in the squad for the tri-series and the mega event is Shikha Pandey

The 33-year-old was dropped from the team in September 2021 but made a successful comeback to the national set-up on the back of a prolific run in the domestic circuit and exploits in the Australian league. 

With Pooja Vastrakar also in the team, there ain't any doubt that Harmanpreet Kaur will start with the 23-year-old, mainly due to her hard-hitting abilities down the order. 

While the veteran seamer has secured her place in the squad, it will be interesting to see the tactics deployed by the Indian skipper in finalising the playing XI for the opening clash against South Africa.

South Africa's daring selection call

And just as we are on the topic of South Africa, the Proteas have made a very bold call ahead of the World Cup, as Dane van Niekerk has not been selected in the 18-member squad on fitness ground. 

The skipper of the South African side has been troubled with injuries and has not played for the national side in the last 14 months. However, the all-rounder was part of the Oval Invincibles in the last edition of the Hundred. 

While she was slated to lead the side back as they fine-tune their combinations ahead of the home World Cup, this massive call is set to create ripples among the board and the former skipper. 

Windies deal with life beyond Dottin

With uncertainty surrounding South African cricket and their skipper, West Indies were rocked in the middle of the Commonwealth Games as Deandra Dottin announced her retirement from international cricket due to the politics surrounding Windies cricket. 

While the world and international cricket is poorer without Dottin and her exuberant style of play, West Indies cricket have been dismal since the shocking announcement as they were bundled out for 43 runs, their lowest score in the shortest format. 

After being whitewashed by England in their own backyard, the young Windies contingent would be keen to turn their fortunes around in this series and gain some much-needed confidence ahead of the World Cup. 

Squads:

India: Harmanpreet Kaur (Captain), Smriti Mandhana (vice-captain), Yastika Bhatia (wk), Jemimah Rodrigues, Harleen Deol, Deepti Sharma, Devika Vaidya, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Radha Yadav, Renuka Thakur, Meghna Singh, Anjali Sarvani, Shushma Verma (wk), Amanjot Kaur, Pooja Vastrakar, Sabbhineni Meghana, Sneh Rana, Shikha Pandey.

West Indies: Hayley Matthews (Captain), Aaliyah Alleyne, Shemaine Campbelle, Shamilia Connell, Britney Cooper, Chedean Nation, Cherry Ann Fraser, Afy Fletcher, Shabika Gajnabi, Sheneta Grimmond, Chinelle Henry, Karishma Ramharack, Kaysia Schultz, Shakera Selman, Stafanie Taylor, Rashada Williams.

South Africa: Suné Luus (Captain), Chloé Tryon (vice-captain), Anneke Bosch, Tazmin Brits, Nadine de Klerk, Annerie Dercksen, Lara Goodall, Shabnim Ismail, Sinalo Jafta, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Tebogo Macheke, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Tumi Sekhukhune, Delmi Tucker, Laura Wolvaardt.

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