In India, the women’s game has gained in stature, and this tournament is another opportunity for them to consolidate their position, says former India captain Anjum Chopra.
The ICC Women’s World T20 in the West Indies starting next month will be the first stand-alone tournament and that is a huge curve in the development of the game. According to Anjum, holding it along with the men’s event so far had its advantages but now it is on its own and the move is quite timely.
“After the success of the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 in England, especially in terms of the audience, it seems the right step for the development of the women’s game. With a packed, capacity crowd at Lord’s and the host nation England playing India in the final with no men’s cricket series going on back in India; the women’s team and its players became household names,” said Anjum.
The West Indies is the defending champion and it will be playing in home conditions and so naturally starts the favourite. With the top two all-rounders in the world in Stefanie Taylor and Hayley Mathews backed by number-four Deandra Dottin, the opportunity lies for it to replicate its success in India in 2016.
For India, the tournament is undoubtedly a challenging one. With teams like England, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand also in the mix, there remains an opportunity to succeed nevertheless. Harmanpreet Kaur will lead India for the first time in a global event.
“Kaur has garnered a lot of experience and success since the last time she played in the ICC Women’s World T20 in India. An unforgettable innings of 171 not out against Australia in England that powered India to its second ICC Women’s World Cup final in 2017 is still fresh in everyone’s minds. Such knocks remain in memories forever,” felt Anjum.
“Smriti Mandhana is another player who could have a major impact on the tournament. Her T20I exploits since early this year have raised her profile as a powerful stroke maker. The dependable and vastly experienced Mithali Raj will be relied on to lay that solid foundation the team would be needing for this high-octane tournament,” added Anjum.
Striking a good balance of skills and experience for the tournament and playing in the West Indies, Mithali, Kaur and Ekta Bisht are the only remainders from the last time India toured the West Indies in 2012. That series identified the big hitting abilities of Harmanpreet where she successfully used the long handle. The way she consistently got the ball to hit the side screen at St. Kitts ground; it generated praise from all quarters.
“The T20 format favours the power hitters and there has been a recognisable and noticeable change in the women’s game too. With exposure of playing T20I cricket in different parts of the world, the Indian players are also aiming at a mix of using skills with the power game,” noted Anjum.
With Ekta Bisht in the mix and having the experience of Caribbean conditions, she will be leading the strong slow bowling attack for team.
Anjum reckoned spin would be a huge weapon in the West Indies and with coach Ramesh Powar at the helm, the team could come up with a strong performance.