Women's T20 Challenge: Top 10 Players to Watch Out For
The third edition of the 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 Sharjah from November 4.
The tournament, which will be aired 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.
Harmanpreet Kaur-led Supernovas, the defending champions, will lock horns with Velocity, led by the veteran Mithali Raj, in the three-team tournament opener.
Let's take a look at top 10 players to watch out for in the tournament.
Top 5 Indian players to watch out for
Mithali Raj (Velocity)
Mithali Raj returns to the field as Velociy captain in this year's Women's T20 Challenge. The 37-year-old legend last featured in a T20I match in March 2019. In her 89 T20I matches, Mithali has scored 2,364 runs with an average of 37.52. Considering this, she will be expected to lead from the front when Velocity walks out to face Supernovas in the tournament opener on Wednesday.
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 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.
She showcased her mettle at the T20 World Cup as she emerged as the fifth-highest run-scorer of the tournament and the player with the highest number of 6s. With such great potential, one could expect a similar showing in Sharjah.
Jemimah Rodrigues (Supernovas)
Jemimah Rodrigues has turned out to be the most explosive player from the Indian women's team. The 20-year-old from Mumbai was named the player of the series and the player with the highest number of runs during last year's tournament.
She grabbed attention at the Women's T20 World Cup earlier this year, 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 T20 World Cup with just 49 runs in four innings. The 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 five foreign players to watch out for
Chamari Atapattu (Supernovas)
The current captain of Sri Lanka's women's T20I team, Chamari Atapattu is all set to grab eyeballs in the upcoming tournament. With a strike rate of 135.08, Chamari became the sixth highest run-scorer in the 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 1,646 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 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 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 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 Raj's Velocity needs. Throughout her career, the England all-rounder has been impressive with both bat and ball but has been facing some issues in the past few tournaments. At the 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 tournament 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, Sune Luus, Jahanara Alam, M. Anagha