Which Indian players missed the bus to Commonwealth Games 2022?

The BCCI has announced the Indian Women’s squad for the Commonwealth Games which commences on the 29th of this month (July) in Birmingham, England. The squad named has the previous mistakes not being repeated, but there again have been a few harsh calls made in the 15 named that’s sparked debate and demand clarity to know what thought process has gone behind the exclusions and inclusion.

 

Indian Women's Cricket Team at World Cup 2022. PC: ICC/Getty
Indian Women’s Cricket Team at World Cup 2022. PC: ICC/Getty

INDIA’S SQUAD FOR COMMONWEALTH GAMES :

Harmanpreet Kaur (C), Smriti Mandhana (VC), Shafali Verma, Sabbhineni Meghana, Taniya Bhatia (Wk), Yastika Bhatia (Wk), Deepti Sharma, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Pooja Vastrakar, Meghna Singh, Renuka Thakur, Jemimah Rodrigues, Radha Yadav, Harleen Deol, Sneh Rana.

STANDBY PLAYERS: Simran Dil Bahadur, Richa Ghosh, Poonam Yadav.

It’s a strong 15 that the BCCI has announced, there’s no second thought on that. The top and middle-order features attacking and the intentful openers in Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana followed by the quality of middle-order players in Jemimah Rodrigues, Harleen Deol, Sabbhineni Meghana, and Harmanpreet Kaur, now that’s a side one fear facing.

The lower middle order with the likes of quality all-rounders in Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, and Sneh Rana is a valuable one to have. The bowling surely lacks experience with no Jhulan Goswami and long-dropped pacer in Shikha Pandey, but the young crop that’s come by has also been good and has got success India’s way in bilateral cricket. Spin twins, Radha Yadav is now catching up well after a bit of a lean patch and Rajeshwari Gayakwad alone has been a huge asset and how well she’s gone with her spin is what Indian fans will wish she continues.

Exclusions

Now the talking points, Richa Ghosh’s demotion to standby players list has Taniya Bhatia named who’d last played a T20I game back in 2020 without any clarity of her role as she was made to bat anywhere in the XI. Richa Ghosh was scouted and brought in place of Taniya Bhatia, Richa since her international debut has been backed and groomed because the potential is very clear in the little we’ve seen and especially in the shortest T20I format.

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Richa Ghosh was also part of the Indian squad that toured Sri Lanka, but one failure that came in the opening game saw Richa being dropped from the side for the next 2 games, and Yastika Bhatia was roped in, in her 1st game of the series (2nd T20I) Yastika didn’t have a good start and in the 3rd T20I when there came a perfect opportunity to play the role of a finisher, she was demoted and Pooja Vastrakar was assigned the role to finish the innings. What India missed here is Richa didn’t deserve only a game as everyone is aware of the game-changing ability she has. In their only buildup series to the Games, the finisher’s role that Yastika had to face saw Pooja in charge, and Taniya if now from nowhere is in the squad at least should have featured in the lead-up, a long-run plan doesn’t look in place.

On the bowling front, long-dropped pacer, Shikha Pandey‘s return to international cricket is a case that’s had no word from the BCCI and it’s only getting blurred as days pass and sadly it’s not just one there’s a long list of players who are in this category. Another talking point has been that of Poonam Yadav and her demotion to the standby list, this alone doesn’t look too big an issue as she’s had issues with her bowling speeds and even repeated backing hasn’t helped the cause, above all, there already are many spinners in the squad.

Inclusion

Harleen Deol‘s inclusion in the squad has raised eyebrows and rightly has because her last international game was late in 2021 and again is a case of no long-run plan in place. If one sees it with a wider lens it’s understandably, the all-rounder package she brings with her athletic fielding, bowling, and the smashes with the bat in hand is a valuable one to have and it’s an entry to be welcomed, but again what’s missed here is the process. Names that have made inclusion and exclusions sadly haven’t had a process and the game time to both who’ve been demoted or promoted hasn’t just done justice and it’s all come out poorly.

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A last one, a bit out of the box, but is something one would have expected and that’s with Kiran Navgire maybe as an X-factor who could have made it to the squad or at least a game or two in the buildup during the Sri Lankan series could have given India an option. There’s no doubt it’s very early for Kiran Navgire to be on an international stage, but there was a little buzz as to how she could have gone if would have featured in a game or two at the Games. Disappointment remains in the process players’ demotion and promotion have taken place and everything that directly links to it with no long-term plan in place that’s resulted in poor game time. There’s no doubt this is a strong 15 named and is one that if carries its momentum to the Games are in for a big run.

India is placed in Group A alongside Australia, Barbados, and Pakistan. India plays their first on an opening day, the curtain-raiser against Australia on the 29th of July. They then play Pakistan and Barbados on the 31st of July and the 3rd of August respectively.

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