World Cups have a way of bringing out the best in players. Those who are able to withstand the pressure and pull out their best performances become part of cricket history. Within the last decade itself, dozens of champions have been unearthed. In 2009, it was Claire Taylor and Katherine Brunt who headlined England’s 50-over and T20 World Cup triumphs.
In 2013, Ellyse Perry overcame a troublesome ankle to produce a match-winning spell. In 2016, Hayley Matthews’ whirlwind half-century laid the base for West Indies maiden world title; and in 2017, Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana won the hearts of the Indian public, before Tammy Beaumont’s consistency and Anya Shrubsole’s devastating spell at the death sealed England’s victory at home.
Ahead of the 2018 ICC Women’s World T20, Firstpost lists 10 players to watch in the tournament— one from each team.
Playing Role: Allrounder (RHB/ Off-spinner)
T20I career stats: Matches: 17, Runs: 220, HS: 63*, Strike Rate: 136.64; Wickets: 11, Best: 2-20, E.Rate: 7.00.
In the 2017 World Cup, when Australia faced England in the league phase at Bristol, Ashleigh Gardner walked in to bat at No 8 with her team needing 38 runs off 18 balls. Unfazed, she smoked a six off the very first delivery she faced— a powerful flick over square leg that sailed into the crowd. It was a shot that caused everyone to ask why Gardner was batting so low in the order, a shot that underlined how dangerous she could be. A few months later, in an ODI against the same opposition, the right-hander blasted an 18-ball 27 in a tricky chase, to help Australia take the lead in the Women’s Ashes series. In the Women’s Big Bash League that followed, Gardner scored a scintillating 47-ball century — an innings that showcased her incredible hitting abilities.
Since then, the all rounder, promoted to bat at No 3 in T20Is, has been given the license to go after the opposition bowlers. Through her 17 match T20I career, she has collected 220 runs at a strike rate of 136.64, including, quite recently, her maiden T20I half-century: an unbeaten 63 off 37 deliveries against Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur.
Gardner, who doubles up as a handy off-spinner, has the ability to single-handedly turn a match on its head if she gets on a roll. She has bucket loads of power, hits the ball in rather unexpected directions, and is absolutely fearless: one of the many match-winners in Australia’s line-up.
Playing role: Allrounder (RHB/ Leg Spinner)
T20I career stats: Matches: 54, Runs: 616, HS: 42*, Strike Rate: 80.83; Wickets: 48, Best 3-2, E.Rate: 5.32
Rumana Ahmed has been around for a long time. The all rounder from Bangladesh made her international debut in 2011, and has been one of the team’s more consistent performers through the years. Through her international career, it is her bowling that has been her primary skill. A classical leg spinner, Ahmed has the ability to extract turn on most surfaces. She gives the ball a generous amount of air, tempting the batters to leave the crease in search of a big hit. Of late, she has also shown a tremendous amount of improvement with the bat, scoring 301 runs in 21 international innings over the last year.
More recently, she has been at the forefront of Bangladesh’s rise on the international stage. She played a crucial role in their Asia Cup triumph, scoring 75 runs and picking up 10 wickets through her team’s campaign. Bangladesh beat India twice in the tournament, and it was Ahmed who delivered two player-of-the-match performances — first with an unbeaten 42 in the league stage, and then a wonderful all-round performance (2 for 22 and a run-a-ball 23) in the title clash.
Playing Role: Opening batter (RHB/ Off-spinner)
T20I career stats: Matches: 83, Runs: 994, HS: 124, Strike Rate: 127.10; Wickets: 46, Best: 4-11, E. Rate: 5.69
Danielle Wyatt is often described by commentators as a ‘pocket rocket’: small built, very fast across the ground, with a rocket arm, and a powerful striker of the ball. She is the ultimate T20 cricketer — brilliant fielder, dynamic batter, and someone who also bowls a bit. Having made her debut in 2010, Wyatt was shunted up and down the order through the initial part of her career, playing mainly as a bowler.
During the 2017 Women’s Ashes series, however, the right-hander cemented her spot as the team’s T20I opener when she bludgeoned a 57-ball 100 in England’s successful chase of 179. Four months later, Wyatt backed up that effort with another century — 124 off 64 balls against India in Mumbai, an effort that helped England chase down a record 199. As if Wyatt’s career strike rate of 127.10 wasn’t intimidating enough, as opener she boasts of a strike rate of 140.52 — the highest for anyone who has opened in more than ten innings. Wyatt has scored more than half her career tally of runs as opener: in 22 innings, the 27-year old has blasted 586 runs, including two centuries and two half-centuries.
Playing Role: Top order batter (RHB)
T20I career stats: Matches: 14, Runs: 336, HS: 57, Average: 37.33, Strike Rate 137.14.
At just 18, Jemimah Rodrigues, is one of the most exciting young talents in world cricket at the moment. She first grabbed headlines late last year when she smashed a double hundred in an Under-19 domestic one-day match for Mumbai. The right-hander’s record breaking domestic season (1013 runs in 10 matches) saw her propelled to the Indian team in February this year. On her first international tour in South Africa, Rodrigues showed what she was capable of— batting fearlessly and taking the attack to the opposition bowlers.
After a successful start to her international career, Rodrigues, a top order batter, found herself in and out of the Indian XI until the team’s most recent tour of Sri Lanka in September. There, in the five-match T20I series, the teenager scored 191 runs at a strike rate of 155.28. She found the boundary quite effortlessly, picking the gaps to perfection. Her positive approach has added a new gear to the Indian batting line up.
Playing role: Top order batter (RHB)
T20I career stats: Matches: 20, Runs: 366, HS: 61, Average: 22.87, Strike Rate: 97.86.
Gaby Lewis is only 17-year-old and is all set to play her second World T20. Having made her debut for Ireland in 2014 at the age of 13, she is now a ‘senior’ player in the side. A tall right-hand top order batter, Lewis is a powerful player. After some impressive performances for Ireland, she was selected by the ICC as one of eight Associate rookies to train with a WBBL team. In 2016, Lewis got to learn from the likes of Heather Knight and Amy Satterthwaite at Hobart Hurricanes, and a year later, she was training with the Melbourne Renegades.
During Ireland’s nightmare series against New Zealand earlier this year, Lewis was the home team’s only bright spot. She scored her maiden international half century — 61 off 45 balls — in the only T20I in Dublin, to guide Ireland to 136 for 8. In Ireland’s following series against Bangladesh, Lewis registered another 50, firmly setting herself up as one of the team’s brightest batting prospects.
Team: New Zealand
Playing Role: All rounder (RHB/ Leg-spinner)
T20I career stats: Matches: 17, Wickets: 14, Best: 3/16, Average: 23.78, Economy Rate: 5.66.
Another teenager, Amelia Kerr already has a few world records to her name, including that of highest individual score in women’s ODIs: 232 not out against Ireland. She burst on to the scene as an exciting leg-spinner a little over two years ago. She has a very simple action, with a rather high arm release, but generates a fair bit of turn. She possess a deadly googly — her biggest weapon — with which she has bamboozled the likes of even Meg Lanning and Sarah Taylor.
Although Kerr has grabbed the world’s attention thanks to her exploits with the bat, it is with the ball that she is likely to be more effective in the World T20. In 17 matches so far, she has picked up 14 wickets at an economy rate of 5.66. She has a calm head on her shoulders, loves to be in the thick of the action, and at 18, as her former captain Suzie Bates says, has the world at her feet.
Playing Role: Bowler (Left-arm orthodox)
T20I career stats: Matches: 38, Wickets: 34, Best: 4-16, Average 19.26, E.Rate: 4.83
Anam Amin is Pakistan’s version of Ekta Bisht. She is a small built left-arm spinner with a big heart. She often takes the new ball for her team, picking up crucial wickets with her accurate and deceptive deliveries. She isn’t someone who turns the ball a great deal, but has a wonderful arm ball — something she uses as her main weapon. In 38 T20Is so far, Amin has picked up 34 wickets at an average of 19.26 and an economy rate of 4.83. In 21 of those matches, she has opened the bowling, taking 19 wickets at a similar average. Her economy of 4.73 is the second-best for a spinner who has opened the bowling in more than 10 matches. Amin had a stellar World T20 in 2016, taking 7 wickets in four matches at an average of 10.42. She also bagged two player of the match awards for her performances against West Indies and India.
Amin missed a chunk of the 2017 season due to injury, but has made a successful return to international cricket. Last month, in a T20I against Bangladesh, she registered incredible figures of 3-3-0-3. The 27-year-old is a vital member of the Pakistan team, and much will ride on her performance.
Team: Sri Lanka
Playing role: All rounder (LHB/ Off-spinner)
T20I career stats: Matches: 69, Runs: 1162, HS: 52, Strike Rate: 92.73; Wickets: 14, Best 2-23, E. Rate: 6.43.
With 1,162 runs in 69 matches, Chamari Atapattu is Sri Lanka’s highest run-getter in T20Is. Easily one of the most free-flowing players on the women’s circuit, the left-hander is as dangerous as they come. She loves to take the aerial route early in the innings, preferring to go straight rather then square. Her career T20I strike rate is only 92.73, but in the last year, the Sri Lankan skipper has been striking at over 100. As India found quite recently, on her day, Atapattu can single handedly win a match for her team. Once she gets on a roll, she is hard to stop.
Aside from her exploits with the bat, the 28-year-old is a feisty off-spinner and a wonderful fielder. She is fiercely competitive, constantly encouraging her teammates, throwing herself around in the field, and taking the ball every time her team is under the pump.
Team: South Africa
Playing role: Allrounder (RHB/ LA Seamer)
T20I career stats: Matches: 48, Runs: 557, HS: 40, Strike Rate: 142.45; Wickets: 19, Best: 2-8, E. Rate: 6.79
Chloe Tryon struts in to bat. Her walk is slow and purposeful, her body language relaxed, and her eyes burn with intensity. The message running in her mind is simple: see ball, smash ball. Tryon is South Africa’s enforcer in the middle order. With Dane van Niekerk and Lizelle Lee providing the power and flair at the top of the order, it is Tryon who adds the finishing touches. Her T20I career strike rate of 142.45 gives a glimpse of what she is capable of. The right-hand batter is one of the most powerful strikers in the world . She loves to hit straight and over mid-wicket — if the bowlers gets it slightly wrong, they are certain to go the distance. With 45 fours and 25 sixes, close to 60% of her career runs have come in boundaries. Tryon’s incredible seven-ball 32 against India earlier this year, at a strike rate of 457.14 — the highest for an innings that has lasted more than one ball — was an example of how dangerous she can be.
Just a glance at her T20I numbers and it is a mystery how she hasn’t yet been signed by a T20 club yet. The World T20 will be the perfect opportunity for Tryon to stamp her authority on world cricket, not just as a power hitter, but someone who can ‘finish’ and win games for her team as well.
Team: West Indies
Playing role: Allrounder (RHB/ Off-spinner)
T20I career stats: Matches: 33, Runs: 341, HS: 70, Strike Rate: 107.19; Wickets: 34, Best: 4-10, E.Rate: 5.83
In 2014, Hayley Matthews announced herself on the world stage with three consecutive half centuries in her first international series: 3 ODIs against Australia in Australia. A year and a half later, Matthews was back facing the same opposition, but this time in a World Cup final in India. That day, the right-hand opener, still only 18, struck a fabulous 66 to headline West Indies World T20 triumph. She batted fearlessly, stepping out to pace and spin alike, swiping Megan Schutt over mid-wicket and pulling Ellyse Perry through square leg. Since then, Matthews, considered one of the most talented players in the world, and also the most sought after in women’s T20 leagues, has had a rather bumpy ride.
After the 2016 World T20 final, the all rounder went 18 months without a half-century in international cricket, but on the cusp of the World Cup at home, Matthews broke her lean patch with her maiden international century against South Africa. The all rounder followed up that knock with two T20I half centuries against the same opposition, setting herself up nicely for the World T20.
Matthews' skills as an off-spinner are highly underrated. She is accurate, intelligent and understands how to keep the batters quiet. When conditions are helpful, she is more than a handful to face. Matthews is a stupendous fielder, in the ring and out in the deep, but most of all, off her own bowling.