The much-awaited Women’s T20 Challenge is set to witness top Indian women cricketers join forces with the biggest names from England, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Bangladesh and New Zealand in the four-match tournament that will get underway in the UAE from November 4th-9th. The tournament that will be aired live & exclusive on the Star Sports Network and Disney+ Hotstar, will mark the beginning of the Indian women’s cricket season following a Covid-19 induced break, with viewers and fans guaranteed for some electrifying action in Sharjah – host for all the matches. Harmanpreet Kaur-led Supernovas, the defending champions, will lock horns with Velocity, led by the veteran Mithali Raj, in the three-team tournament opener.
The tournament has provided the right platform for budding talent from women’s cricket to showcase their skills on the biggest stage of them all. Supernovas’ Jemimah Rodrigues, who won the 2019 ‘Player of the Series’ title, is testament to the fact how the tournament enables youngsters to learn and interact with some of the best in the world.
TOP 5 INDIAN PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Mithali Raj (Velocity)
India’s greatest women cricketer Mithali Raj returns to the field as the captain of Velocity in the Women’s T20 Challenge 2020. The 37-year-old legend last featured in a T20 international in March 2019. In her 89 T20 matches, Mithali has scored 2364 runs with an average of 37.52, and a highest score of 97 runs to go along with her exquisite resume. Considering this, she will be expected to lead from the front when Velocity walks out to face Supernovas in the tournament opener on November 4th.
Shafali Verma (Velocity)
Entering as one of the most exciting player of the tournament, Shafali Verma will be expected to do all the heavy lifting for Velocity. The 16-year-old superstar is the youngest women to play for India in T20Is. The opposition will be cautious about Shafali’s form after she was declared the world No. 1 batswoman in the ICC Women’s T20I Player Rankings released in March this year. Verma showcased her mettle at the Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 as she emerged as the fifth-highest run-scorer of the tournament and the player with the highest number of six’s. With such great potential, we could expect a similar showing in Sharjah.
Jemimah Rodrigues (Supernovas)
Jemi, as her team-mates usually call her, has turned out to be the most explosive player from the Indian Women’s cricket team. The 20-year-old talented cricketer from Mumbai was named the player of the series and the player with the highest number of runs during the Women’s T20 Challenge 2019. She grabbed attention at the Women’s T20 World Cup 2020, scoring 85 runs in the tournament with a strike rate of 88.54. Jemimah will be an important cog in the wheel for Supernovas, who are eyeing a third consecutive title.
Harmanpreet Kaur (Supernovas)
Harmanpreet Kaur has been the most successful player in the tournament and this time, she returns eager to pocket her third title. The experienced all-rounder’s career has been decorated with smashing records. She was the first woman to score a century in a women’s T20I, and she was the first Indian player (male and female) to play 100 T20I matches. Though her performance at the Women’s T20 World Cup was a bit underwhelming, the skipper is all set to change that and saunter onto the Sharjah Cricket Stadium with renewed energy and fervour.
Smriti Mandhana (Trailblazers)
The youngest captain of Women’s T20 Challenge, Smriti Mandhana, will be itching to avenge her team showing from last year. The Trailblazers captain did not have a good start of the year as she underperformed at the Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 with just 49 runs in 4 innings. The stylish left-handed batswoman will be expected to regain her lost form and improve her batting that will hold the Trailblazers in good stead in the tournament.
TOP 5 FOREIGN PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Chamari Atapattu (Supernovas)
The current captain of Sri Lanka’s women’s T20 international team, Chamari Atapattu is all set to grab eyeballs in the upcoming Women’s T20 Challenge. With a strike rate of 135.08, Chamari became the 6th highest run-scorer in the 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup and will be itching to replicate her performance for the Supernovas in their bid to defend the title. The 30-year-old batswoman, who has scored 1646 runs in 85 T20Is, has the potential to exploit the batting-friendly conditions in Sharjah. Her wealth of experience too will come handy for decision-making processes on the field of play.
Sophie Ecclestone (Trailblazers)
The stakes are high for Smriti Mandhana’s Trailblazers as the world No. 1 bowler in Women’s T20 cricket joins the team for their 2020 campaign. The 21-year-old England spinner dished out her career best performance at the Women’s T20 World Cup with a stingy economy rate of 3.23 at the expense of just 15.1 overs. Considering all the matches will be held in Sharjah, Sophie will play a key role for the Trailblazers to prevent the opposition from posting a high score.
Deandra Dottin (Trailblazers)
Looking at the dimensions of the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Deandra Dottin will be raring to send the cricket ball out of the park. The West Indies all-rounder, the first female cricketer to hit 100 sixes in WT20Is, enters the fray riding high on confidence, especially after moving five places to reach 15th position in the latest Women’s T20I Rankings announced recently. With her brute force, Dottin could prove to be the backbone of the team’s lower order.
Danielle Wyatt (Velocity)
Danielle Wyatt brings the necessary experience that Mithali Raj’s Velocity needs. Throughout her career, the English all-rounder has been impressive with both bat and ball but has been facing some issues in the past few tournaments. At the Women’s T20 World Cup, Wyatt notched up 42 runs in four innings, with an average of 11.75 and a strike rate of 102.17. The Women’s T20 Challenge will be a chance for her to renew herself and show the might that she possesses.
Natthakan Chantham (Trailblazers)
Making her debut in the Women’s T20 Challenge is the first-ever Thai cricketer – Natthakan Chantham. The cricketer has turned heads and put Thailand on the world cricket map. She became the first-ever cricketer to register a half-century in T20 World Cup for her country. Chantham has been impressive with the bat, accumulating 103 runs in just four innings with a strike rate of 83.73 and an average of 25.75. With her addition, Trailblazers have surely beefed up their batting contingent!
Supernovas: Harmanpreet Kaur (C), Jemimah Rodrigues (VC), Chamari Atapattu, Priya Punia, Anuja Patil, Radha Yadav, Taniya Bhatia (WK), Shashikala Siriwardene, Poonam Yadav, Shakera Selman, Arundhati Reddy, Pooja Vastrakar, Ayushi Soni, Ayabonga Khaka, Muskan Malik
Trailblazers: Smriti Mandhana (C), Deepti Sharma (VC), Punam Raut, Richa Ghosh, D. Hemalatha, Nuzhat Parween (WK), Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Harleen Deol, Jhulan Goswami, Simaran Dil Bahadur, Salma Khatun, Sophie Ecclestone, Natthakan Chantham, Deandra Dottin, Kashvee Gautam
Velocity: Mithali Raj (C), Veda Krishnamurthy (VC), Shafali Verma, Sushma Verma (WK), Ekta Bisht, Mansi Joshi, Shikha Pandey, Devika Vaidya, Sushree Dibyadarshini, Manali Dakshini, Leigh Kasperek, Danielle Wyatt, Suné Luus, Jahanara Alam, M. Anagha