Trailblazers, one of the teams participating in the Women’s T20 Challenge, has the potential to win the competition. Smriti Mandhana, the stylish and elegant opener who has become one of the mainstays of the Indian batting line-up, will look to lead from the front. Smriti will have the experience of Jhulan Goswami by her side.
The latter may have retired from the shortest format of the game, but her presence is enough to strengthen any bowling line-up. Deepti Sharma, Smriti’s deputy, will also be another vital cog in the batting order, who will also roll her arm over for some off-break bowling.
WHO WILL BE SMRITI’S OPENING PARTNER?
Skipper Smriti will be required to not only make the most of the powerplay overs but also hold one end. Trailblazers will have a tough time deciding the top order, with quite a few options available to them.
Will the team management play safe and go for an experienced opener in Punam Raut or back youngsters like Richa Ghosh and Harleen Deol? The presence of Punam Raut will provide stability to the batting line-up but her comparatively lower strike rate could prove to be a hurdle.
Richa Ghosh, the 17-year-old youngster earned a national call-up on the back of her explosive batting in the domestic circuit and, if provided an opportunity, will be looking to go all guns blazing. Harleen Deol and the first Thai player to get selected, Natthakan Chantham, will also be making their cases for a spot in the top order.
DEEPTI TO STEADY THE SHIP IN THE MIDDLE
The vice-captain of the Trailblazers, Deepti Sharma will have to steady the ship in the middle, while Caribbean recruit, Deandra Dottin will provide the required fire-power in the lower order. Dottin is also expected to share the new ball with Jhulan. Nuzhat Parween, who will be donning the gloves, also possess the ability to press on the accelerator and provide the required stimulus to the innings.
SPIN DEPARTMENT LOOKS SETTLED
Sophie Ecclestone, the young English left-arm orthodox bowler, will be the one to lead the spin attack. She possesses the knack of claiming important wickets and also slowing down the opposition’s scoring with her disciplined bowling. Rajeshwari Gayakwad is another important left-arm spinner in the ranks. Deepti and Bangladeshi all-rounder, Salma Khatun, will also be handful with their off-breaks on the pitches of UAE.
WILL YOUNG PRODIGY, KASHVEE GAUTAM, GET AN OPPORTUNITY?
Kashvee Gautam, a 16-year-old medium-pacer, made the headlines after claiming all ten-wickets for Chandigarh against Arunachal Pradesh in an U-19 game. A serious upcoming talent, she can make the final XI. Even if she warms the bench, the experience she’ll gain after sharing the dressing room with Goswami will be invaluable.
Trailblazers Squad: Smriti Mandhana (C), Deepti Sharma (VC), Punam Raut, Richa Ghosh, D. Hemalatha, Nuzhat Parween (WK), Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Harleen Deol, Jhulan Goswami, Simran Dil Bahadur, Salma Khatun, Sophie Ecclestone, Natthakan Chantham, Deandra Dottin, Kashvee Gautam.
Likely XI- Smriti Mandhana (C), Punam Raut, Richa Ghosh, Deepti Sharma, Nuzhat Parween (WK), Deandra Dottin, Salma Khatun, Jhulan Goswami, Sophie Ecclestone, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Kashvee Gautam.