It is very uncommon when the selectors are in limelight especially when it’s related to Women’s cricket. Unfortunately, this is what we have been reading in the last few days after India’s unfortunate exit from the ICC World T20 against England in the semi finals. Not selecting the most experienced limited overs professional in the crucial game has found the management in a soup. But, the tournament has been beyond this incident and in a way, the girls on field have done the fans more proud than not.
It all started in the opening game of the tournament which was an all important fixture against New Zealand. The White Ferns had put Indians under tremendous pressure but a fighting knock by Jemimah Rodrigues and a blistering 49 balls century by skipper Harmanpreet Kaur set the tone for the tournament and there was no looking back.
In the next game against Pakistan, Mithali played the way she does taking India over the line with good support from Indian bowlers who were extremely clinical in their performance. Against Ireland, the batters did well again the innings anchored by Mithali Raj. The bowlers did their job winning the game by 52 runs.
Then came the clash against the mighty Aussies which would decide the group winners, the Indians again overwhelmed the situation defeating them by 48 runs. Smriti Mandhana returned back to form with a knock of 83 and bowlers did a fantastic job restricting the Aussies to a paltry 119.
The Indians entered the semis as table toppers and had to take on the English. Mithali Raj was not selected for this game as Indians wanted to stick to the winning combination which had played the last group game against Australia. Batting first, the Indians were sitting comfortably at 89/2 with 6 overs to go. But then came the worst phase of the tournament for the team when they lost 23 runs and lost all the remaining 8 wickets. The English went on with the chase pretty easily knocking the Indians out of the tournament with 8 wickets and 17 balls remaining.
Let us have a look at some individual performances now.
Harmanpreet Kaur – the skipper was the top run getter for India and her aggression and match winning knock in the crucial and opening game of the tournament had the hopes of all the fans soaring high. She managed to score 183 runs at a strike rate of 160 and a highest score of 103. She turned out to be more than useful with the ball picking up 1 wicket but very miser economy rate of 4.83. (Female Cricket rating – 9/10)
Smriti Mandhana – She started slowly but got in the groove towards the later part of the tournament. As expected, she was amongst the top run getters in the tournament with 178 runs at a strike rate of 125. Her knock of 83 against Australia helped India secure a much important win and secure the top spot in the group. (Female Cricket rating – 8/10)
Jemimah Rodrigues – One of the most promising players and surely the one to look forward to in the future. She managed to score 125 runs with a highest of 59 wherein she was involved in match-winning record stand with the skipper Harmanpreet. (Female Cricket rating – 7/10)
Mithali Raj – Unfortunately, a lot of controversy has been associated around her selection. In the first game her batting services were not required despite India losing 5 wickets. She missed the game against Australia due to a knee injury sustained while fielding against Ireland and the selectors overlooked her for the semifinals. In her 3 appearances, she batted twice and scored a half century on both the occasions. She scored a 107 runs at an average of 53.5 and a strike rate just above 100. (Female Cricket rating – 9/10)
Poonam Yadav – As expected, she was the joint highest wicket taker for India with 8 wickets but failed to make an impact in the crucial semis against the English. She conceded at an average of 15.75 and economy of 8.30 with best of 3/33. (Female Cricket rating – 8/10)
Radha Yadav – Asked to open the bowling, Radha too picked up 8 wickets in the tournament conceding runs at 5.75 and average less than 15 per wicket. (Female Cricket rating – 8/10)
Deepti Sharma – She turned out to be a good asset with the ball picking up 5 wickets in the tournament with a slightly expensive economy of 6.42 per over. (Female Cricket rating – 8/10)
Hemalatha Dayalan – The debutant made some useful contributions with both the bat and the ball picking up 5 wickets but turned out to be expensive. She conceded at an economy rate of 8 per over which was higher than the tournament standards. (Female Cricket rating – 6/10)
The tournament turned out to be a sub-standard one especially for experienced campaigner Veda Krishnamurthy. Also, Taniya Bhatia got opportunities at the top of the innings but couldn’t make immense. Arundhati Reddy too couldn’t pick up wickets early on and also turned out to be expensive.
Overall, the performance of Indian team was good as they turned out to be the table toppers triumphing over teams such as Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan. They were undone in the semis against England for which selection could be considered as one of the points, but the lower middle order didn’t apply them on the day which really cost the team their dream and hence the tournament. Let us hope that, this tournament acts as a learning platform and will open the gates for more investment in women’s cricket and focus from BCCI going forward.