INDIA WOMEN TOUR OF WEST INDIES, 2019
Harmanpreet Kaur’s young squad that beat South Africa at home is unchanged for the Caribbean tour © Getty
Ideally, with around three months to go for the T20 World Cup, this should be the time where all teams have settled on their make-up for the marquee event, and are just looking to cross some t’s and dot some i’s. India’s squad, retained as it was from their series win over South Africa at home, reflects that, and so does the West Indies’, who only have a couple of changes.
India are coming off a 3-1 win over South Africa at home in what was their first T20I series in the post-Mithali Raj era. Harmanpreet Kaur’s squad, packed with youngsters, fired as a unit to seal the series in Surat before Lizelle Lee blew them away and pulled one back right at the end.
But while the margin of their win was comprehensive, it may have papered over some cracks in the batting department. Barring Harmanpreet, it’s hard to pick out one batter who didn’t underwhelm. Worryingly, it’s the same problem that had plagued India in the 0-3 whitewash against England at home earlier in the year as well. And that’s where the focus will be.
The management showed faith in Shafali Verma, handing her a debut at the age of 15 and persisting with her at the top of the order for all four matches against South Africa. Shafali repaid some of that faith with one good knock of 46, but didn’t do much at all apart from it. How she goes here, if given a chance again, could be of significance.
As far as some of the others are concerned, they would’ve gained confidence from their showing in the ODIs leading up to this five-match extravaganza, and will be desperate to make amends in this format.
Their bowling, though, remains a strength. The spin trio of Radha Yadav, Poonam Yadav and Deepti Sharma kept a leash on South Africa barring that one game. Seamer Shikha Pandey played her role well too. It’s one department that they’ll back to do well on some of the slow pitches on offer in the Caribbean.
West Indies, meanwhile, are welcoming back Hayley Mathews after her suspension. She had played the third ODI in the series defeat against India as well, and now returns to bolster the T20 outfit that was thrashed 3-0 by Australia a couple of months back.
Shakera Selman, the 30-year-old pacer, also returns for the hosts after an injury lay-off while all-rounder Chinelle Henry, who suffered a concussion in the first ODI and missed the remaining two, has been passed fit to play.
Importantly, this is West Indies’ last series before the mega-event next year, and thus their last chance to find the answers they’re searching for after a rough last couple of tours against Australia and England. As far as India are concerned, they’ll play a tri-series in Australia shortly before the T20 World Cup gets underway.
When: November 9, Saturday, 6pm local (November 10, 3.30am IST)
Where: West Indies vs India, Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium, St Lucia
Weather: The forecast is for some showers through the day
West Indies: Stafanie Taylor (c), Hayley Matthews, Chedean Nation, Chinelle Henry, Stacey-Ann King, Kyshona Knight, Natasha McLean, Shabika Gajnabi, Shemaine Campbelle, Sheneta Grimmond, Anisa Mohammed, Aaliyah Alleyne, Afy Fletcher, Shakera Selman
India: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vice-captain), Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Harleen Deol, Deepti Sharma, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav, Veda Krishnamurthy, Anuja Patil, Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar, Mansi Joshi, Arundhati Reddy