Cricket

Clean sweep in WI a big boost

All smiles: The recent good outing by the Women in Blue augurs well for the World T20 next year.

All smiles: The recent good outing by the Women in Blue augurs well for the World T20 next year.  

Performances by the youngsters should spur the Women in Blue

Amidst all the discussions thrown up by a pink ball these past few days, a commendable feat achieved with a white one almost went unnoticed. The Indian women’s team’s 5-0 demolition of West Indies in the T20I series didn’t get as much attention it deserved.

It was the finest performance by the Women in Blue in a T20I series. They had begun playing this format in 2006, with a one-off away match against England.

Before this splendid show in the Caribbean, the best result had been a 4-0 victory in Sri Lanka in 2018 (one match was washed away). That was followed by two whitewashes in which India was at the receiving end.

Setbacks

The 3-0 defeats to New Zealand (away) and England (home) were setbacks after reaching the semifinals of the last World T20 in the West Indies. Against this backdrop, this triumph, in the same exotic islands of the Caribbean, assumes significance.

The timing could not have been better, either. The T20 World Cup in Australia is just three months away.

The confidence which comes from a clean-sweep will do the team a world of good as it looks ahead to the tour down under. The way the games were won, and the performances by some of the younger members of the team, should make for a better feeling.

Team effort

If openers Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma batted West Indies out of the first match at Gros Islet, off-spinner Deepti Sharma bowled the team to an easy win in the second at the same venue.

At Providence in the third game, Deepti and the other spinners bamboozled the home batters, who were made to crawl to 59 for nine in the full 20 overs.

Bowlers deliver

In the fourth match, reduced to nine-overs-a-side, the Indian women could only make 50 for seven, but the bowlers delivered yet again, to give the team a five-run victory.

Then, in the final match, in which the openers failed, the No. 3 and 4 batters Jemimah Rodrigues and Veda Krishnamurthy scored fifties to set up a winning total.

It was indeed that kind of a series for the Indian women, when just about everything went right.

Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur and coach W.V. Raman should be happy with the way the series played out. Before the team boarded the plane for the Caribbean, the captain had told The Hindu how much she enjoyed working with Raman.

She would not have minded playing a major innings though, but the fact is, her team didn’t quite need it. Harmanpreet, who is fast growing as a captain, would only be happy if India has more match-winners, not just the handful, like Smriti and herself.

Biggest gain

The emergence of the 15-year-old Shafali as a match-winner is the biggest gain for India from the tour. In the first two matches, she made 73 (49b) and 69 not out (35b).

An explosive batter, she adds another dimension to India’s batting line-up that has been relying too heavily on Smriti,

Jemimah and Harmanpreet. These are indeed exciting times for India’s women’s cricket.

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Printable version | Feb 29, 2020 10:52:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/clean-sweep-in-wi-a-big-boost/article30078539.ece

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