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Spin it to win it – Mantra of Indian Women’s cricket for T20 World Cup

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Indian and Australia bowling has always been stories of two contrasts. When you hear Australia, you will think about their fast bowlers but it is different in the case of India Women’s team. They rely on their spinners and spin has been India’s strength over the years.

Great Australian men’s team when they travel to Asia pick the bowlers who are more suitable for them and do not depend much on the conditions. Take for example the Australian tour of India in 2004. For the Test series, they played three fast bowlers and one spinner in their playing eleven. Likewise, Indian management for the upcoming T20 World Cup to be played in Australia has decided to go focus on their key strength, which is spin bowling. India has picked spin quartet of Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Deepti Sharma and Radha Yadav as its main go-to bowlers. Pacer Shikha Pandey and fast-bowling all-rounder Pooja Vastrakar along with Anrudhati Reddy are the other bowlers in the squad.

Speaking on her bowling resources, Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur said “We are looking for more spinners in our side and we have got that. Now the only thing is how we are going to use their strengths. They are very good and always give us breakthroughs, our strength is spin and we have to stick to that and whenever we need them, they will perform for us“.

Many cricket aficionados are wondering why India has picked plenty of spinners while they will be playing in Australia for the World Cup. Fast bowlers love to travel Down Under as the fast and bouncy track helps them. But behind India’s selection, there are a lot of numbers which tell us a story.

In 2019, India’s top three wicket-takers were spinners. Radha Yadav (21 wickets), Deepti Sharma (19 wickets) and Poonam Yadav (16 wickets) led the bowling charts. Rajeshwari Gayakwad was called back into the side after a gap of two long years. Gayakwad had impressed with her performance in Women’s Challenger Trophy taking eight wickets in five matches and ended as leading wicket-taker of the tournament. In the recently concluded T20 tri-Series between Australia, India and England the Indian spinners were lethal as they picked 23 wickets among them. Gayakwad was the leading wicket-taker with 10 scalps followed by Sharma with seven wickets and Yadav who had five victims against her name. India missed the services of the most experienced spinner Poonam Yadav due to injury. If numbers are to go by opposition teams will be finding it difficult to counter this attack. It was evident in the tri-series as only once they conceded more than 160 runs from five matches.

On big Australian grounds hitting these spinners won’t be easy for many batters and they wouldn’t have faced these quality spinners before in their careers. India is scheduled to play two matches in Melbourne which has a big ground. The ground will make it hard for batters to hit these spinners out of the park. The Women in Blue will play one match in Sydney and the track there will help spinners more than any ground in Australia.

India boasts of variety in their spin department. Yadav bowls leg-spin. Sharma is an off-spinner. Yadav and Gayakwad are two left-arm spinners. If needed Kaur can roll her arm over. This gives management lots of options for the World Cup. In fact, the management might be facing the problem of plenty. The headache for the captain and the management will be whether they should play three spinners or four spinners in the playing eleven. Yadav was back at her best against West Indies in the warm-up match.  Kaur and management will be tempted to go with four spinners.

India would be pinning its hopes on these spinners. All of them have plenty of experience in cricket’s shortest format. The four spinners have a combined tally of 207 T20I wickets. This will be give lot of confidence to Kaur leading into the World Cup in Australia.

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