The viewers for women cricket in India started to rise after Women in Blue entered the final of the 2017 world cup. Although the team couldn't win the title, their skill sets were noticed by Indians, helping the women's game to be considered amongst the fans. That goes on to state how important is the most loved and respected tournament in the history of the game - the world cup. This is why every team sends their best squad for having the best chances to win the title. But is the Indian squad the best offer amongst the available option of players?
Not. The selection committee has managed to surprise everyone by excluding a few key players who could have been crucial for the team. Excluding members like Jemimah Rodrigues, Punam Raut, Shikha Pandey, Radha Yadav who have a great experience, and who could've been a boost to the team is not a great sight. Earlier this year, BCCI shocked everyone when they decided to exclude the finest finisher for Women in Blue in the form of Veda Krishnamurthy in the ODI series.
One can understand why Shikha Pandey was not selected for the squad. Her performance in the past complete year is not up to the mark. She has managed to get crucial wickets at times, but almost in all the matches, her economy is not that great. The Air Force officer has been a great servant of the game, but her performance in the past few games have not matched her expectations. But, one of her experiences could've been a boon to India, especially in New Zealand where pitches suit the pace bowlers. Similarly, Radha Yadav's omission can be probably because the squad has experienced spinners already, and the conditions in New Zealand might not help the spinners much.
In the case of Punam Raut, there can be a strong reason for her strike rate. She is one of the players who play with a lesser strike rate than required. But while doing she stays rock solid on the crease on one end. And in the 50-over game, if she manages to do it continuously, the other batters can have a go at the bowlers, which often is the followed strategy by the Indian batting line-up. Leaving out a player averaging almost near to 75. But yes, if the margin of victory is only about 10-15 runs, her less strike rate would be a risk factor for the team. This is why, her omission from the team is not a great sign to watch, but is neither surprising.
The most surprising player to be not included in the squad is undoubtedly Jemimah Rodrigues. Right since her debut for Women in Blue, she has been a match-winner. Her technique is great, and so is her strike rate. The batter indeed failed to live up to the expectations when Indian women toured England. But her performance in the Hundred and WBBL were splendid. Scoring 249 in the inaugural edition of Hundred, and 333 in the WBBL, she reminded the world how elegant batter she is. Her ability to absorb pressure, rotate the strike, and accelerate quickly in the middle order makes her the best one-down for Women in Blue. Also, her last successful stint in Australia would've helped our helped her in harnessing the Kiwi pitches. But unfortunately, she is not in the squad.
For any cricketer, it is not a great sign to see themselves not in the squad even after giving their 100 %. But more than their individual feelings, it can affect a team to a greater extent. Having left out some people who can take the match away from the opposition, is a huge loss to our team. This is why the selection should be a thoughtful one. To choose the top 15 amongst many is a challenge, resultant of which a lot of people can't be selected in the team. But there should be no doubt in selecting a handful of players, who have had a great form and who have significantly contributed at their fixed position to the team. It would be a huge blunder if it doesn't happen.
It's not a great sign to watch blunders committed by the selection committee again and again. The same happened in the 2019 world cup when Ambati Rayudu was ignored by the selectors. If he would've been a part of the tournament, we might have the result in India's favour. Similarly, the omission of Jemimah should not worsen India's chances. And for instances like these, there should be a hold on the selection committee, and they should be questioned time and again for their choices.
The world cup is the grandest stage for any sport. Having a history of successful promotion of the game in India, post Women in Blue's entry in 2017 final, one can only imagine how exponentially women's cricket will grow in India if we win this title. If the glory days for Women in Blue have to come, they will have to win their first World Cup. And to win this title, one has to have the best possible squad. Nevertheless, the selected squad will be going to the world cup.
It's not like India does not have a great squad. India has great options. With Smriti and Shafali as openers, India can get to a great start. The strong arms of Harmanpreet Kaur would help the ball to land in stands. Spinners like Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad and wicket keepers like Taniya Bhatia and Richa Ghosh would ensure opposition batters fall in their trap. Deepti Sharma, Sneh Rana would be a delight to watch. The youngsters Yastika Bhatia, Pooja Vastrakar, Meghna Singh and Renuka Singh Thakur would love to make a mark in the cricketing world. And all these strong girls under the experienced duo of the world's best batter Mithali Raj and the world's best bowler Jhulan Goswami would put every ounce of their energy to bring the first title of glory for Women in Blue. If that happens, their combined efforts would help in revolutionizing women's cricket, just like Kapil Dev's team did after the 1983 world cup victory. Irrespective of the selection, every Indian wish to see this happen in the coming world cup.
Authored By:- Ashwin Jangam ( Cricket Analyst, Host and Entertainer)
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