Shikha Pandey’s makes a Return to Indian team after 14 Months

“Our greatest strength comes from our hardest times. You go”. This quote was put up by Shikha Pandey on her bedroom wall since February. Her exclusion from the team by the selectors for the past 14 months not just puzzled fans but experts too were left bamboozled.

Shikha Pandey. Pic Credits: Getty Images
Shikha Pandey. Pic Credits: Getty Images

 

She last played against Australia in 2021 but it was in the same series that her ‘Ball of the Century’ captured the imagination of the nation like never before. She was bowling to Alyssa Healy in the 2nd T20I on October 9th when she bowled an unbelievable in-swing delivery that slyly turned around and slammed into the stumps.

What was remarkable was how she bowled this after Healy hit a boundary to start their run chase. This delivery was about a metre outside Healy’s off-stump when it touched the ground and went on to smash the top of the stumps, absolutely shocking not just Healy but also the other players, the commentators, the crowd and quite literally sent social media into a tizzy. After all of these heroics seeing her getting overlooked and dropped from the side for important bilateral series’ besides the ICC Women’s ODI World Cup 2022, the Commonwealth Games, and the Asia Games to name a few was very disappointing, to say the least.

However, she never backed down. Despite being ignored by the national squad, Pandey kept wowing everyone silently with her performances in domestic cricket. In seven games in the Inter-State Women’s T20 Competition, Pandey, the captain of Goa, took 11 wickets at an average of 10.90. Additionally, she made an impression with the bat, earning 105 runs with a top score of 47. Pandey, who represented South Zone in the Inter-Zonal T20 Competition, took seven wickets at an average of 9.85 in five games. Pandey nevertheless made useful bat contributions in every opportunity she got as in five innings, she scored 94 runs at an average of 23.50.

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Century for Shikha Pandey in her comeback match in Katherine Raymont Shield. PC: Twitter
Century for Shikha Pandey in her comeback match in Katherine Raymont Shield. PC: Twitter

 

When Pandey made her debut in Australia’s Katherine Raymont Shield tournament for the Wynnum Manly Cricket Club, she scored a century, garnering attention for the tenacity of the knock. She subsequently produced amazing stats of 6-1-7-2 in the same game that was just phenomenal. In four games of the just-finished Senior T20 Challenger Trophy, Pandey took two wickets in the four games she was a part of. A call-up was very much on the cards and with her selection for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 squad, not just her but everyone was pleased.

Shikha Pandey is certainly an important cog in India’s international set-up. Having taken 40 wickets in 56 T20 International matches for India and 75 in 55 ODIs, she brings a lot of experience to the table. Team India will compete in a tri-series against South Africa and the West Indies prior to the T20 World Cup and her expertise in these conditions will be critical. The Indian selectors including her goes to show they have faith in her abilities to be lethal in the South African conditions. Shikha Pandey also took to Twitter and thanked everyone for supporting her during her tough times and shared an affirmation that kept her going after learning she had been chosen for the Indian World Cup team.

I am a first year postgraduate student pursuing a MA in Media and Communication Studies at Christ University, Bengaluru. I am a podcaster, blogger and an avid cricket fan. When not glued to cricket matches, you can find me submerged in books and thinking about cricket all the time.

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