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Ind vs Eng – women’s cricket – Opportunities galore as Harmanpreet Kaur looks to build team for T20 World Cup


Ind vs Eng – women’s cricket – Opportunities galore as Harmanpreet Kaur looks to build team for T20 World Cup


India have started preparing for the 2024 Women’s T20 World Cup and captain Harmanpreet Kaur wants to “build” for the event by giving the new faces in the T20I squad “as many opportunities as possible” to prove themselves on the big stage. The selection, in the end, will not only be about their performances on the field but also how they contribute off it, she said.

“Whichever player you play with, you will know how they can contribute to the team just by looking at their body language and the way they think about cricket,” Harmanpreet said ahead of the second T20I against England in Mumbai. “Just like how there’s no surety about anything in life, we also can’t be always sure about a player. At the same time, it’s about how they improve by the day and how they help the team win, all that is important. All that also plays a role in how many opportunities you want to give a player.

“In the team there are so many youngsters now who have done well in domestic [cricket] and WPL. We’ve picked those who have done well in T20s. We want to build this team. We have so many matches coming up. As a captain, I want to build this team. The support staff is also balanced now. Amol [Muzumdar, head coach] has so much experience as player and coach. When all these things are sorted, you know that you just need to go out there and play. As a captain, I have a lot of trust and belief. They are the best and that’s why they are here. I want to give them as many opportunities as I can because they are the best right now. I want them to do well for the country.”
Allrounder Shreyanka Patil and left-arm spinner Saika Ishaque, who were among the breakout stars at the inaugural WPL this year, received maiden call-ups for the T20Is series against England, while youngsters Titas Sadhu, Kanika Ahuja and Mannat Kashyap have also been named in the squad. Patil and Ishaque made their India debuts in the first T20I, where the hosts lost by 38 runs, and finished with decent returns. Patil bagged two wickets, while Ishaque dismissed the on-song Danni Wyatt for 75.
Ishaque, 28, had finished the WPL as the joint-second-highest wicket-taker and was also the top wicket-taker in the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy this season with 18 wickets in nine matches. Twenty-one-year-old Patil, meanwhile, impressed for India A leading up to the T20I series, picking up five wickets in three games. She also had a prolific Women’s CPL in March, where she was the only Indian and ended up being the highest wicket-taker, with nine wickets in five games.

Harmanpreet was clear the duo needs to make use of these opportunities to cement their spot at next year’s T20 World Cup, which is slated for September-October in Bangladesh. Following the England series, India are set to play a full series against Australia at home, which includes three T20Is.

“The team which we have picked for this T20I [series] is the one we want to build for the upcoming World Cup,” she said. “Saika and Shreyanka have done really well in the last game. They’re quite confident and after the game we did sit with them and discuss what best they can do in the upcoming games. For them, they just need opportunities and so many opportunities are there now. They just need to go out there and execute in the best way.”

India suffered heartbreak at the T20 World Cup this year, losing to Australia in a close encounter in the semi-final. They also came close in 2018 (semi-final) and 2020 (final). Harmanpreet, who is now a globally recognised player – she is one of BBC’s 100 Women and Time Magazine’s 100 Next this year – has only one thing on her mind: to win a World Cup for India.

“I want this team to grow in a way that everyone says that this is the best team,” she said. “For me winning a World Cup is a dream and I’m just working towards that and that is the only reason I requested BCCI to get a young team. These games are very important. England are not going to give us anything easily. So we are putting ourselves under pressure. We want to work hard towards that and I don’t count my personal achievements to any level because I’m playing a team sport. If the team is doing well I’m happy.

“At the same time, when you’re not feeling great, you see people are you telling ‘you’ve done this and that’ to make you feel good. For me, team performance and winning a World Cup for the country is very important, and my aim is towards that. I just want us to stay together and grow together and do something great for our country.”

In the first T20I, India fielded only two fast bowlers in the XI, whereas the spinners bowled 12 overs and were expensive. Fast bowler Renuka Singh returned to international cricket after close to 10 months and impressed immediately with figures of 3 for 27 while medium pacer Pooja Vastrakar went for 44 runs in her four overs. Sadhu, the other fast bowler in the squad, was out ill. Harmanpreet said that spin was among India’s strong suits and trusted her spinners to come good, adding that Sadhu “should be ready” for the second game to bring more balance to the side.

“In our domestic set-up so many spin bowlers are doing really well. It’s something which has always been our strength. Among pacers, Renuka is doing really well, other end Pooja is helping her. At the same time, Titas was not well. She should be ready for the next game and secondly, I feel spinners are more confident and they’ve always done really well whenever they’ve got the opportunity. That’s why we went with the spin attack.”


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