The All-India Women’s Selection Committee picked a 39-member squad for Senior Women’s Cricket Challenger Trophy, which will be played in Mulapadu, Andhra Pradesh from January 3rd.
Shikha Pandey, Punam Raut, and Mona Meshram will lead the three sides – India Red, India Blue, and India Green respectively.
Most of the players have been rested as India will tour to New Zealand later in this month.
Veteran Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, spin troika Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Poonam Yadav, youngsters Deepti Sharma, Taniya Bhatia and Jemimah Rodrigues will not be a part of the tournament, while India T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur and her deputy Smriti Mandhana are currently busy with their stint in Women’s Big Bash League with Sydney Thunder and Hobart Hurricanes respectively.
The tournament plays a key role for both the upcoming talent as well as national players. Last Year Jemimah Rodrigues’ brilliance with the bat helped her get selected in the national team for the South Africa tour. Veda Krishnamurthy, who has been dropped from the national side for the upcoming New Zealand tour for her poor form, will aim a fine comeback courtesy this series.
Should she get among the runs, which is expected, there’s little reason why this great find for India can’t make it among the ranks.
That said, what about the bowlers?
After having missed the World T20, Shikha Pandey, arguably the most under-appreciated medium pacer in the women’s game, has been named in the national side for the upcoming New Zealand tour in place of Pooja Vastrakar; who is currently
healing from the knee surgery. This tournament will play an important role for Pandey to prove her capability as an all-rounder.
Along with the three captains, the other International players are Veda Krishnamurthy, Radha Yadav, D Hemalatha, Mansi Joshi, Arundhati Reddy, Sushma Verma, Sneh Rana, R Kalpana, and Shubhlakshmi Sharma.
What would be interesting would be to gauge Sushma Verma’s performance in this series, especially from the context of having not seen her represent India internationally for a while now.
Having last played a game over eight months back, an ODI against England wherein she’d execute 2 stumpings and 1 run-out, Verma’s missed out on a lot of cricket, her last T20 appearance for India coming over 2 years before.
Similarly, it would be interesting to note the performances of two cricketers who may perhaps return to the playing contention.
Sneh Rana and R Kalpana who both last played for the country in early 2016, have returned in the tournament after their steady performance for Railways. Shubhlakshmi Sharma, who last played for India in 2015, also named in the India Green squad. She shifted her base to Bengal for the domestic season and played an important role for her side to reach the final after beating Railways in the semi-final.
Apart from these national players, there are youngsters too who have the possibilities to get selected in the national team in near future. Vrushali Bhagat, C Jhansi Lakshmi, Harleen Deol, Reemalaxmi Ekka, Sushree Pradhan, N Anusha, Tarannum Pathan, Tanushree Sarkar are few of them. Priya Punia, who got her maiden call-up in the T20I team for the New Zealand series, too, will play for India Blue.
Last year in August, Mithali Raj led India Blue won the Women’s T20 Challenger Trophy in Alur; which was considered the start of the Women’s domestic season 2018-19.
India Red: Shikha Pandey (c), N Anusha, Shivi Pandey, Veda Krishnamurthy, Vrushali Bhagat, Jasia Akhter, Jhansi Lakshmi, Komal Zanzad, Shanti Kumari, Radha Yadav, Harleen Deol, R Kalpana (wk), Tarannum Pathan
India Blue: Punam Raut (c), Priya Punia, Tanushree Sarkar, Bharti Fulmali, Aditi Sharma, Tamanna Nigam, Mansi Joshi, Reema Laxmi Ekka, Manali Dakshini, Tanuja Kanwer, G Trisha, Sushma Verma (wk), Minnu Mani
India Green: Mona Meshram (c), D Hemalatha, Shefali Verma, Tejal Hasabnis, Anita Lodhi, Sneh Rana, Arundhati Reddy, Renuka Singh, Shublaxmi, Devyani Prasad, SB Keerthana, Shweta Verma (wk), Sushree Dibyadarshini