WOMEN’S T20 CHALLENGE – SQUAD ANALYSIS – SUPERNOVAS
After numerous uncertainties, the Women’s T20 Challenge is finally confirmed for 2020. It will take place in foreign shores for the first time, with Sharjah hosting the tournament between 4th to 9th November 2020. Traditionally held in the playoff window of the men’s Indian Premier League (IPL), the Women’s T20 Challenge is seen by women’s cricket as a precursor to a full-fledged Women’s IPL in due course of time.
Inaugurated in 2018, the Women’s T20 Challenge started off as a one-off exhibition match between 2 teams – Supernovas and Trailblazers – in Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. In what was a riveting contest, Supernovas won the game by 3 wickets in a last-ball finish. The second season, held in 2019, featured a third-team – Velocity, which was captained by Mithali Raj. After all the three teams won a game each, it was Supernovas and Velocity who qualified for the finals. Supernovas again won a last-ball thriller to win the competition, with Harmanpreet Kaur playing a captain’s knock of 51 off 37 balls to guide her team home.
After a brief period of anxiety owing to the pandemic, the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) had decided to continue the tournament, much to the relief of the players. However, the tournament will take place in November, leading to a clash between the Women’s T20 Challenge and the marquee Women’s Big Bash League in Australia. Consequently, the Women’s T20 Challenge will see a lot of churns when it comes to overseas players with Suzie Bates, Sophie Devine, Amelia Kerr, Lea Tahuhu, Nat Sciver, Stafanie Taylor, and Hayley Matthews missing out and players like Thailand’s Nattakan Chantam getting an opportunity.
Of all the participating teams, Supernovas have had the most success in this tournament. Led from the front by Harmanpreet Kaur, who also leads the Indian side in this format, Supernovas won the one-off game in 2018 and also were the winners last year. The line-up looks pretty formidable this year too, with some key players in great form. The following players are representing Supernovas this year:
Harmanpreet Kaur (captain): India’s T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur also captains this side. She has a great record in the tournament and has played important knocks in the last edition, scoring 2 half-centuries in 3 matches, including the finals. She has almost single-handedly dictated the fortunes of her side with her blistering knocks. Being the captain of the national side, she has loads of international experience to bank on, being one of the few players to feature in 100+ T20Is. Having amassed 2200-odd runs with a century and six half-centuries in T20Is, she will remain the talisman of the side. Having taken 29 wickets in T20Is with the best figures of 4 wickets for 23 runs, she will contribute with the ball as well. Although she did not perform up to her expectations in the Women’s World T20 in Australia, she is still expected to score big in this tournament.
Jemimah Rodrigues (vice-captain): Aged just 20, Jemimah Rodrigues is a young and talented batter who has now established herself in the national setup. She is consistently among the runs, having scored 930 runs in 44 T20Is scoring as many as 6 half-centuries and a career-best score of 72. In her last assignment, the Women’s World T20 in Australia, she got quite a few starts but could not convert them into a big score. Her record in the last year’s edition was good, as she made an unbeaten 77 runs off 48 balls to win an important game against Velocity and book their place on the finals. She will look forward to more such knocks this year as well.
Chamari Atapattu: Supernovas will also benefit from the services of Sri Lankan captain, Chamari Atapattu. Having played 85 T20Is, she has scored 1646 runs and has scored a century and 3 half-centuries. She is in sublime form, having scored two of her half-centuries this year, both against England, including a half-century in the recently-concluded Women’s World T20, threatened to take the game away from England. Her other half-century, a powerful knock of 78* in 50 balls helped her side chase a modest 123 in just under 13 overs. Her century was also scored last year, against a top team like Australia, as she scored 113 in just 66 balls overshadowed only by Beth Mooney’s 113 off 61 deliveries. Having taken 26 wickets in T20Is including a three-for, she can show her value with the ball as well.
Anuja Patil: Having played 50 T20Is to date, Anuja Patil is no stranger to T20 cricket. Aged 28 years, she is a talented spinner in the side, having taken 48 wickets with the best bowling figures of 3 wickets for 14 runs against Sri Lanka. Her last international assignment was the tour of West Indies where she was consistently among the wickets, picking up 5 wickets from 3 games while conceding only 24 runs. She last represented India A side during their tour of Australia and picked up 3 wickets in 3 games. She also has a half-century in T20Is, scoring an unbeaten 54 against Sri Lanka in 2018, so she can be quite a handful with the bat as well. She represented Supernovas last year as well, picking up a wicket each in the three games and will look forward to add more to her tally this year.
Radha Yadav: An important member of the Indian side, Radha Yadav is among the first-choice spinners in the side. She has picked up 49 wickets in 35 T20Is. She last played in the Women’s World T20 and was instrumental in her side’s progress towards the final by picking up 6 wickets in 3 games, including a career-best 4-wicket haul against Sri Lanka. She picked up 3 wickets in the last edition, playing alongside Supernovas, and will get another opportunity to add more wickets to her tally.
Taniya Bhatia (wicket-keeper): Taniya Bhatia is the first-choice wicket-keeper in the national side and has already played 50 T20Is. Although her batting record is quite modest, she has been very successful in her primary role as a wicket-keeper. She has effected as many as 23 catches and 44 stumpings and is in good form, having claimed 6 catches and 4 stumpings in the Women’s World T20 in Australia, just before the pandemic. She will again represent the Supernovas side this year.
Shashikala Siriwardene: Sri Lankan all-rounder, Shashikala Siriwardene, recently announced her retirement from international cricket. The veteran all-rounder has represented her side in 81 T20Is and has picked up 77 wickets with an average of just over 20 runs per wicket and has 3 four-fors to her name. She has picked up a career-best 4 wickets for just 9 runs and signed-off quite well, picking up 7 wickets in the Women’s World T20, including a 4-wicket haul against Bangladesh, her last international game. She has also scored 1000+ runs in T20Is including a half-century, so she is quite capable of the bat as well. Representing Supernovas, she will be a part of this tournament for the first time this year.
Poonam Yadav: Poonam Yadav is the frontline spinner in the Indian side and made waves during this year’s Women’s World T20 in Australia. She has picked up 95 wickets in T20Is from 67 games with an average of under 15 runs per wicket. On spin-friendly wickets, she can be quite handful as she had shown in the Sydney Showground Stadium in the opening game of the World T20 against the hosts. Taking 4 wickets for just 19 runs, she single-handedly broke the back of Australia’s chase and helped her team get an important win in the tournament. She continued with her form in the subsequent matches and finished with 10 wickets in the competition. She is in top form at the moment and will play an important role in her side’s fortunes this year.
Shakera Selman: A pace bowler, Shakera Selman forms an important component of the West Indian bowling attack. She has featured in 84 T20Is picking up 48 wickets at an average of just over 25 runs per wicket. She has recently featured in international cricket in September this year, playing against England in England, where she impressed by picking up 6 wickets from 4 games, including a three-for. Representing Trailblazers last year, she has now been drafted to the Supernovas side where she will look to help her team reclaim the title.
Ayabonga Khaka: The South African seamer has featured in 29 T20Is and could slot in as the front-line seamer for the Supernovas side. Having taken 28 wickets in 29 T20Is including the career-best figures of 4 wickets for 23 runs, she is quite capable of filling that role. She has also taken 72 wickets in 60 ODIs that she has played. She recently represented South Africa during the Women’s World T20 in Australia and took 3 wickets for 25 runs against South Africa to win the game for her side and propel them to the knock-outs. She can hope for a similar stint with the Supernovas in what would be a debut appearance in the tournament.
Arundhati Reddy: Aged 23, Arundhati Reddy has represented India in 20 T20Is to date taking 15 wickets. She is a medium-fast bowler and had played in a few games in Tri-Nation Trophy and the Women’s World T20 in Australia earlier this year. She will be a handy pace option for the Supernovas along with her compatriot Shakera Selman. She did not get a game with the Supernovas last year but she will hope to get a few games in this edition.
Pooja Vastrakar: Pooja Vastrakar is also India’s back-up seamer who represented her country during India’s tour of the West Indies last year. She also featured in a solitary game in the Women’s World T20. She has taken 16 wickets in the 20 T20Is that she has played. This is the first time that she is a part of this tournament and she would look forward to making the best use of this opportunity.
Priya Punia: Priya Punia, aged 24, burst into the national side last year but has not had enough opportunities to cement her place in the side. An opening batter, she has featured in only 3 T20Is. However, it is her record in ODIs which is more impressive and showcases her capabilities, having scored 175 runs in 5 ODIs including 2 half-centuries. She also scored a century in Australia last year representing India A. She will feature in the strong Supernovas side as an opening batter alongside Chamari Atapattu.
Ayushi Soni and Muskan Malik will also feature in the Supernovas side looking forward to making a debut in this tournament.
With an astute captain like Harmanpreet Kaur leading a team comprising of high-quality batters like Jemimah Rodrigues and Chamari Atapattu and capable all-rounders like Shashikala Siriwardene, Supernovas will again look to perform well with the bat. Their bowling department may not look as strong but the quartet of Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav, Ayabonga Khaka, and Shakera Selman can be as threatening with the ball. All in all, they have many match-winners in their side which makes them quite formidable as they look for their third title in a row.
They begin their campaign on November 4th, squaring off against Mithali Raj-led Velocity to open the tournament. Follow us on Twitter for all the updates.