That’s it. The time has come. Leave whatever it is that you’re doing and stay glued to the Women’s World Cup, 2022. Clearly the premier event in all of international women’s contests, the mother of all sporting battles has hit us up after nearly a half a decade gap, the last edition being in 2017 where England emerged champions. While teams like India and South Africa have been clearly among the most improved and dangerous sides in the last two seasons with Windies and Pakistan promptly providing the shock and awe moments to stun opponents, can anyone contest with the might to curtail Australia’s thumping charge. 2021 and 2020 have clearly belonged to the Meg Lanning side.
We saw what many would call an ‘upset’ as the Aussies went down quite comprehensively to New Zealand in the warm-up game, but will an actual contest where points count produce similar result? There’s much at stake as teams will take to the fields with what they’ll feel would be their most balanced unit given the power of the youth and the voice of the experienced lots.
But for now, let’s discover the power of the youth. Which Women’s world cup debutants are all set to make 2022 their year?
SHAFALI VARMA (IND)
The Indian team will heavily bank on this young opening batter’s aggressive intent and form in this World Cup. A batter unafraid to express herself, one of the hallmark qualities of Varma’s game is her boldness to step down the ground to pacers. Will this be a feature she’ll put up for display in this World Cup? We don’t know. What we do, however, is that, the Indian team has given the Haryana right-hander sufficient match time for her to get used to the New Zealand conditions. A strong opening partnership along with Smriti as her opening partner will be a cornerstone to India’s success in the tournament- but will it be that easy? What will be for the eyes, we know for a fact, will be her big-hitting abilities coupled with her fearless approach to batting. Her wide range of shots in her armour make Shafali a prominent find in the team.
YASTIKA BHATIA (IND)
Frankly, if there’s a talent that’s been on everyone’s lips of late, then it’s Bhatia.
Yastika Bhatia’s rise as a consistent player in the past 6-months in the ODI circuit was nothing short of splendid. Her talent and consistency met with the perfect opportunity to brighten up the Indian blues. Her biggest strengths are the flexibility to bat at both middle and the top order and to perform under pressure. The latter was visible in the recently concluded series against the Kiwis. It when Yastika’s arrival in the International circuit, the Indian middle order players had a free hand to bat around her since then making her one of the reliant players in the Indian camp.
POOJA VASTRAKAR (IND)
There’ll be a day, factually speaking, where the great Jhulan Goswami, a legend for all intents and purposes, will hang her boots. The most successful bowler for India that there’s ever been in ODIs will look to garner keen support from Vastrakar at the other end.
Tricky New Zealand conditions that aren’t always a peach for batters will hopefully aid the medium pacers and this is where the thinking fast bowler from India, who’s not a fan of too many words, will look to pounce upon the batting in front.
This all-rounder’s journey hasn’t been that easy; she’s had to battle an injury-ridden career in the last couple of years. Post that, she paved a superb comeback to the national team has been nothing short of a revelation. Pooja is good second pace option as she can strike and bring wickets in the final overs. Moreover, she is a powerful striker of the ball down the order and has the ability to finish matches. Should all these skills culminate together, Vastrakar will make a prominent contribution to India in what is her debut ODI world cup.
RICHA GHOSH (IND)
Richa Ghosh has a ability to improve and grow as wicket-keeper batter as and when she gets more match time. She showed grit and potential in the last two series against Australia and New Zealand.
Richa average’s 44.40 and strikes over 105 in the 50-over format. She is anchor between both the middle and lower order while batting. Her ability to bat aggressively and rotate strike adds more depth in the Indian batting line-up. She has the ability to pace her innings according to the requirement of the team, quick fifties and impactful knocks to score in the death over’s makes her a significant player in this tournament.
HAYLEY JENSEN (NZ)
One of the most promising names among the women’s world cup debutants is Hayley Jensen. Along with the ever-reliant Lea Tahuhu, Hayley Jensen is now a regular medium pacer for the Kiwis. She bowls at an economy rate of 5.54 R.P.O since 2017. Along with picking scalps at regular intervals with her stump-to-stump bowling, she also has the ability in making handy contributions down the lower batting order. Though the all-rounders open up more bowling options for New Zealand, mainstay bowlers like Tahuhu, Jensen hold the key to keep batters at bay.
What can the powerfully-built Jensen do in her maiden ODI women’s world cup appearance?
DARCIE BROWN (AUS)
The young bowler had already exhibited the potential that could bridge the gap left by the injured Tayla Vlaeminck who’d be kicking herself for missing out this time around. In the Ashes-2021 series, Brown wrapped England’s top-order when her impressive spell with fuller lengths and her shorter one’s got the wickets of Tammy Beaumont, Heather Knight and Nat Sciver.
Of the 4 ODIs, she’s already bagged two 4-fers in her kitty. Though Meghan Schutt will lead the pace department, Brown, easily one of the finest fast bowling finds where women’s world cricket is concerned, is certainly a strong contender for being the second pace bowling choice.
TAHILA McGRATH (AUS)
Many moons ago, there was great joy and thrill in the Aussie camp with the arrival of the great Perry. And now, there’s renewed vigor in the said unit with the arrival of the lanky all-rounder McGrath, among the heavyweight names where the Women’s world cup debutants are concerned.
Australia have abundant all-rounders in their team, but little did they know that a single player could hold fort one series after the other. Stunning form, brilliant batting skills and tactical bowling option make Tahila the most dangerous player to clash with. England learnt it the hard way in their recent white-ball Ashes campaign with McGrath doing the damage.
Her recent all-round Ashes dominance and being the undisputable force in the series against India in 2021 established her as a preeminent player among the Southern stars to have made her debut this World Cup.
KATE CROSS (ENG)
Easily one of the toughest customers where mental strength is concerned in the game. Kate Cross fought inner demons and challenges to have emerged as a top pick where England’s pace bowling hopes are concerned.
The right-arm pacer’s rise among the ranks was a story about consistency and accuracy in bowling. Her prolific domestic performances earned her a place in the national squad. Given the opportunity, she kept only utilising it to the best of her capacity as she only went wicket less thrice since her comeback in 2018. Since her comeback, she shared the bowling (Pace) load along with Katherine brunt. Strict bowling lines and lengths and quicker deliveries played the key to her phenomenal rise.
SOPHIE ECCLESTONE (ENG)
Let’s state things as they are. There aren’t many like Sophie Ecclestone in the game at present. A brilliant talent and a genuine wicket-taker, Ecclestone lends a sense of gravitas to a very capable bowling attack that already boasts big names like Anya Shrubsole, Katherine Brunt, and Nat Sciver.
But here’s how things have changed for England, the defending champions since Ecclestone’s arrival in the ODI camp.
In the 2017 World Cup, Danielle Hazell, Laura Marsh and Alex Hartley lead the spin attack. Sophia Eccelstone has been the ideal descendant to fill their shoes for this edition. The slow left-arm orthodox bowler’s wicket-taking ability at crucial intervals and the knack to bowl tight spells at an economy rate of 3.68 in ODI’s makes her a key player for England. Given her strength and the flair and experience of the rest of the side, can the Poms retain its world cup title this year?
SOPHIA DUNKLEY (ENG)
One of the things you tend to easily note about the 23-year-old Surrey-born talent is her ability to quickly accumulate runs. Not a massive hitter of the white ball, Dunkley’s skill with the bat is understood by an impressive strike rate of 74. Moreover, Sophia Dunkley’s calming presence in the middle-order has given England the assurance to score at a fast pace in the death overs. Weather to prevent a batting collapse or to post a massive total, this Surrey batter will like to apply herself to aid her side to good measure in her maiden ODI World Cup. Her ability as a finisher and build partnerships in the lower batting order are the qualities that England might utilise in this tournament.
KARISHMA RAMHARACK (WI)
Karishma Ramharack is an exciting addition to a reasonably balanced Windies bowling cauldron that features some very exciting names such as Shamilia Connell, Hayley Matthews and the iconic Anisa Mohammed. Unafraid to toss up the ball combined with her ability to add revolutions to the spinning delivery, Ramharack is a thinking Trinidadian.
The right arm spin bowler was chosen as the next spin option along with the veteran Anisa Mohammed for this World Cup. Having made her debut two years back against Pakistan, she cemented her place by bowling economically at a rate of 4.56 R.P.O and also picked scalps at frequent intervals. She adds more depth to the Windies bowling camp and lowers the burden on the first choice bowlers like Anisa and Stafanie Taylor.
How many scalps will this promising name among the Women’s world cup debutants be able to add in her maiden appearance?
ALIYA RIAZ (PAK)
This dynamic all-rounder is clearly among the most highly-rated Women’s world cup debutants. Riaz has been an important player across all-formats of the game for Pakistan. Her ability to perform consistently with the bat in the lower order against strong bowling line-ups like South Africa where she led Pakistan close to winning line with a superb knock of 81 in the first ODI match in January 2021. That’s just a testimony of the skill she posses and the team will heavily rely on her efforts for it to progress in the tournament.
ANAM AMIN (PAK)
Anam Amin, clearly among the most watchable in the list of the Women’s world cup debutants is currently Pakistan’s first choice spinner for since her comeback in 2018. She was visibly the go-to-bowler in the ODI series against West indies in Karachi last year when she picked 9 wickets in three matches.
Since 2017, Anam has picked 19 wickets in 12 matches at an economy rate of 3.70 rate per over. The slow left arm orthodox spinner has troubled batters with barrage of dot balls and accurate spells, thus creating pressure for the opponents.
-edited by Dev Tyagi