Can India Make it a Double?
Fresh from their recent triumph in the U19 World Cup, India have momentum on their side to win their first ever World Cup. Can they draw inspiration from their younger compatriots and win this tournament and make it a double?
One noticeable feature of the U19 team was their fielding. They were one of the better teams in the tournament. One noticeable feature of the senior team is their fielding.
India is in Pool B with Pakistan, England, West Indies and Ireland. One would expect India to advance through to the next stage. Only two potential stumbling blocks: England and Pakistan.
The opening match is against neighbours Pakistan – the two rarely meet and the last time they did it was a victory to Pakistan. India is a better side on paper, but such is the passionate rivalry between these two teams you can toss that paper in the bin. A victory in this match will pave the way for a semi final spot.
The England match will be fascinating as it’s essentially a battle for top spot, hopefully avoiding Australia in the semi finals.
One of the most feared opening partnerships for opposition bowlers is the Indian pair of Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma. Left and right combo, exquisite covers drives mixed with brute force. This pair are a glorious match and worth the ticket price alone.
There’s an abundance of batting skill in the middle order – captain Harmanpreet Kaur and Jemimah Rodrigues to name just two – but getting the right combination has been a juggle to get spots three to seven locked away. That’s an important area to get right.
Which allrounder between Pooja Vastrakar and Shikha Pandey? One doubts India has room in the team for both. Of course, Deepti Sharma is also an allrounder but one tends to pencil her in the top six. Either way this trio of allrounders do give India flexibility with both bat and ball.
ICC Emerging Player for 2022, Renuka Singh, should enjoy the conditions in South Africa. Watch for her to play a big part.
For spin, apart from Deepti, a nice headache to have is needing to choose between Radha Yadav and Rajeshwari Gayakwad. I’d go with the former, simply because of the fielding – the latter struggles at times. But she is alone – fielding is a perennial issue…
One noticeable feature of the U19 team was their fielding. They were one of the better teams in the World Cup. One noticeable feature of the senior team? Their fielding has never been consistently good enough.
Their batting? First class. So too the bowling. If India can lift their game in the field to match their other skills they can win this trophy. If they cannot, they won’t. That is their challenge.