Com Games Preview: India

Undercover Plot Exposed

The entire nation of India is in on this. Players, support staff, BCCI, fans. Every one of them is part of a plot to win gold at Birmingham and that is being uncovered here, just in time.

Go into any world event with women’s cricket, be it the recent ODI World Cup or the T20 World Cup in 2020 and there’s one thing you are sure to be overwhelmed by: the hype around the Women in Blue. It’s suffocating and it never ends well for the team. Their empty trophy cabinet says the hype isn’t matched by the results.

What’s that sound now? Aussies are favourites! Look at England and their youthful brilliance and how they crushed South Africa. Yeah! Yeah!!

Who is talking about India? They have quietly slipped into Birmingham under a cloak of silence. This is unheard of. The nation of India is silent. This is new territory. The entire country is in on this plot and it’s now been exposed. A team of superstars the fans are always keen to rave about but they are holding the line.

It’s very quiet, unsettling. It’s a sinister plot to win gold.

Squad

Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Taniya Bhatia (wk), Yastika Bhatia (wk), Harleen Deol, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Sabbineni Meghana, Sneh Rana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Meghna Singh, Renuka Singh, Pooja VastrakarShafali Verma, Radha Yadav

Holes in the Batting

Ok there are none, but I was struggling for a subheading. Look at the two openers. No other team in the world has the same two openers in every single format. And why not? The sublime, supreme left-hander Smriti Mandhana and the no nonsense hard hitting Shafali Verma. The fact that they are openers in Test, ODI and T20I gives away the fact that this is a solid working partnership. They both like to score runs at pace. It’s a dreamy start to any cricket team.

Yastika Bhatia – I wish she were just here for her batting, for she justifies a spot on that alone, but I suspect the left-hander will also be given the wicket keeping duties. A talented player who has the ability to change tempo.

The captain at number four, Harmanpreet Kaur, is one of the best in the world. Jemimah Rodrigues at five is probably too low in the order but as good a number five as you’d want.

Follow that excellent line-up with the hitting power of allrounders Deepti Sharma and Pooja Vastrakar and that takes you to seven top players. In reality it does not really matter what follows: they’re not needed.

New Bowling Options

It will take some getting used to an Indian team without champion new ball bowler Jhulan Goswami thundering in from one end, but there are good pace bowling options coming through with Renuka Singh and Meghna Singh, backed by the allrounder Vastrakar.

Spin is always the strong suit of this team and they’ll be led by the superb Rajeshwari Gayakwad with her left-arm slow bowling. There will be some brilliant left-armers on display in this tournament and Raju is one of the best of them. Sneh Rana is a capable off spinner but more than that, she’s a figher. India must pick her for that quality alone. Backup for spin from Deepti.

It’s Harman’s Team Now

The other part of this plot by the Women in Blue is the settled nature of the team. Yes Harman has been in charge of the T20 team but has had to take a back seat for ODIs to serve under Mithali Raj. The wait, the weight has had a detrimental effect over the last couple of years, in my eyes. That has gone.

Harman may just be the leader India has needed for so long, unshackled by the past. Forever the bridesmaid and never the bride, perhaps this is India’s best chance.

Australia’s Meg Lanning has identified India as the biggest threat. She caught the earlier bus to me, but I’m in full agreement. India are a red hot chance for gold in Birmingham and now for all to see, the plot has been exposed.

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