Watch out for Jemimah Rodrigues, Radha Yadav, Richa Ghosh, Shafali Verma at the ICC Women's T20 World Cup, and also in the future. With ICC planning to launch an U-19 World Cup for women in 2021, the future looks bright for the Indian team
Indian women’s team coach WV Raman, speaking on the Cricket Couch Podcast, has spoken about how this Indian side will be at the top of their game -and hopefully, the world in about three years time. Part of the reason is the average age of the squad, just a sprightly 22.8. The team picked for the World Cup also includes four teenagers, three of whom are a regular part of the starting XI.
Firstpost takes a look at some of these new, and not-so-new kids on the block, so you can get to know them a bit better.
Radha is the oldest of the four teens in the Indian squad, at 19 years and 297 days. She enjoyed a great debut year in world cricket, picking up 17 wickets in her first 14 games for the country in 2018. The left arm spinner pipped experienced bowlers like Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Ekta Bisht, and was a key part of a four-pronged spin bowling attack that took India to the semifinal of the 2018 Women’s World T20 in the West Indies, beating New Zealand and Australia along the way.
Her fielding has always been top notch, but she grabbed attention with a stunning high catch in that tournament. Having only played T20I cricket for India, she has maintained her impressive form, and is currently ranked the second best bowler in the world. Watch out for her typical celebrations this tournament, in which she gives every successful bowler an elevated hug.
Rodrigues is already referred to as Jemi ‘di’ by some of the players, which is a laugh considering she’s only 19 and a half. But she’s already become a cornerstone of the Indian batting in both ODI and T20I formats. A natural opener, she will turn out at No. 3 for India in the T20Is. Ranked No. 4 in the world among T20I batters, she has impressed ever since her debut in 2018, often playing second fiddle to the likes of Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur. Only the second Indian woman to score a double ton in a 50-over U-19 game, she has also captained the Mumbai senior side since the age of 17, leading some players twice her age.
While she’s widely adored for her silky drives, she's also a fan favourite when it comes to social media, where her cheeky personality shines through, unlike the sanitised feeds of most celebrity sportspeople.
This one’s a keeper. An actual ‘keeper, like a wicketkeeper. It’s something few people know about Shafali, considering her batting has grabbed headlines since her debut as the youngest Indian to play women’s T20I cricket. One of the finds of the fledgling Women’s IPL T20 Challenge, Shafali has since struck fear in the hearts of opposition bowlers, notching up 314 runs in her first 13 international appearances, at a strike rate of over 142.
After breaking Sachin Tendulkar’s record of being the youngest Indian to score an international half century against the West Indies, her blitz of 49 off 28 balls against Australia in a must-win game of the just concluded Tri series announced her arrival on the big stage. Having finally provided a solution to India’s opening combination, the team management will look to give her a free hand in her first World Cup.
She’s the new kid on the block who calls Rodrigues ‘Jemimah di’.
16-year-old Richa showed spunk, first in the final of the Women’s Sr. T20 tournament, where she hit two sixes on the way to 24 against champions Railways, then in the Challenger trophy with 36 off 26 for India ‘B’. She finished the tournament with just under a hundred runs at a strike rate of 114, but impressed with her willingness to attack the opposition bowlers irrespective of what the wicket column read.
Yet another example of how much talent there is in India’s small towns, the youngster comes from Siliguri in Bengal, and started playing cricket at the age of just 4. Ghosh can also bowl medium pace and occasionally keeps wicket. She followed her father (who is an umpire) to his local tennis ball matches, and was most recently spotted following Sachin Tendulkar, her idol, when he was in Melbourne for the Bushfire appeal charity match, hoping for a selfie.
Watch out for these four in the next three weeks, and also in the future. With ICC planning to launch an Under-19 World Cup for women in 2021, the future looks bright for the Indian team.
The author is a former India cricketer, and now a freelance journalist and broadcaster. She hosts the YouTube Channel, ‘Cricket With Snehal’, and tweets @SnehalPradhan
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