The Board of Control for Cricket in India today announced the squad for the women’s team from the country for their tour to New Zealand for a bilateral series consisting of an Only T20I and five ODIs starting February 9 followed by the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup from March 4.
While the World Cup and ODI squad led by the legendary Mithali Raj and the T20I squad captained by Harmanpreet Kaur include some top names of women’s cricket – Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Sneh Rana, Poonam Yadav, Deepti Sharma to name a few, some popular names were missing too which left the fans disappointed.
Among those left out, two of the most surprising omissions were of batters Jemimah Rodrigues and Punam Raut, both of whom have been an integral part of the team for quite some time now and were also in the team’s squad for their tour to Australia last month. Their exclusion did raise a number of questions not just from fans but even from those involved in the sport as well.
What do you think of India’s Squad for Upcoming Women’s World Cup?
— Female Cricket (@imfemalecricket) January 6, 2022
Sharing her disappointment on missing out on a deserving opportunity, Punam Raut posted a heartfelt message on Twitter that got a great number of reactions within minutes,
She wrote, “Having being considered amongst the experienced batsmen and a consistent run-scorer for India, I am extremely disappointed at not being a part of the World Cup Squad. In 2021, I averaged 73-75, scoring 295 runs which included a hundred and a half centuries in the six ODI games that I played. It is very disheartening to be continuously left out even after performing. Having said that, I would like to extend my best wishes to all the players who will be representing India.”
— Punam Raut (@raut_punam) January 6, 2022
As Raut mentions in the message, she has been a consistent performer for the women in blue and even scored an unbeaten century in March last year when India hosted South Africa in Lucknow, finishing the five-match ODI series with three consecutive 50+ scores (62*, 77,104*). In fact, her century last year was her third one in ODIs as she scored a couple of centuries back in 2017- 109* against Ireland and a crucial 106 against Australia in the 2017 World Cup. Though her strike rate has been an area of concern, the fact that she has been scoring runs whenever the team needed can’t be neglected. She finished 2021 as the third-highest ODI run-scorer for India aggregating 295 runs (100s 1, 50s 2) in 6 matches at an average of 73.75.
It isn’t just about her run-scoring capability, her attitude towards keeping the spirit of the game is also appreciable. An instance of which was seen during the historic pink ball test in Australia where though she wasn’t given out, but Raut who was batting well at that moment decided to walk back knowing the ball did hit the bat before being caught by the wicketkeeper. Her gesture was applauded by many.
In an interview with TOI after her praiseworthy gesture, Punam Raut expressed her gratefulness for being able to represent India and was eagerly looking forward to the World Cup.
She said, “I am really happy and grateful that I got an opportunity to represent India. Not a lot of people get a chance to play for India for as long as I am playing, the last 12 years have been like a dream which I don’t want to end soon. Right now, the focus for us winning the World Cup and the entire team is looking forward to the same. Winning the World Cup would be like the perfect icing for my cake.”
Considering Punam Raut’s stats and her dedication to the game, her exclusion along with that of some other capable players as well do raise some big questions. Having said that, the squad consists of some new faces of Indian women’s cricket that is definitely a good sign for the years to come.
Author of the poetry book ‘The Scent of Rhythm’, I am a passionate writer and a Sports enthusiast who writes on Cricket and plays Badminton.