West Indies became the winner of ICC Women's World Twenty20 in 2016. ©ICC

The sixth Women’s World Twenty20 gets underway in the Windies from Friday (November 9). As a part of the build-up Women’s CricZone spoke to three Indian players and one Pakistani cricketer who have played in the previous editions to get a sense of how things were in the past.

Excerpts:

Winner of ICC Women’s World Twenty20 2009 – England. ©ICC

2009 in England: Amita Sharma

(It was the inaugural Women’s World T20, and India made it to the semifinals)

The first edition of World T20 was special to us, and we were very excited. At the get together before the start of the tournament, not only we but also players from West Indies, South Africa and other countries were waiting to just see MS Dhoni. He was a hero at that time. Everybody wanted to talk to him. We all used to reminisce that moment much later also.

I always have special memories of playing in England. One of the things back then was that we used to get attention there which we never got in India. We were excited for the semifinal because it was India’s first-ever double-header. Our match was followed by the men’s semifinal. Those were initial days of T20. We did not know how to play, had little knowledge to plan for the format and were also very young.

Somewhere we did not plan well for the semifinal. I was the vice-captain of the team, and all of us tried but we lost the plot. We lost early wickets at the start of our chase (of 146), and never got momentum after that and our strike-rate was not good. While I was batting at the end, one of the tailenders, knowing that the game is gone, asked me, ‘Can I hit the ball now?’ It was tough to hit the ball, but she had to do it. Quite funny it was, and also her confidence level was high. Though we lost, we have lovely memories from that trip.

Winner of ICC Women’s World Twenty20 2010 – Australia. ©ICC

2010 in Windies: Diana David

(Once again India, who had played just one T20I as a part of their preparation, qualified for the semifinals, but a batting failure against Australia and Alex Blackwell’s brisk 61 ended their journey)

 As the highest wicket-taker (David, the offspinner, finished on top of the charts ahead of New Zealand’s Nicola Browne, who too had nine wickets, with a better average of 7.44), I had a great tour. I was making a comeback to the side after a gap of six years in 2010, and I made a strong statement by proving myself once again. The four-wicket hauls against New Zealand and Sri Lanka were totally unexpected for me. I was supposed to be in the 2009 World Cup squad, but ICC said only 14 members are allowed and I was dropped. It triggered me a lot. So, I made sure when I got a chance in World T20 that I would have to make a difference. The amount of hard work and a good mindset I came with helped me.

Sharing the dressing room with Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami and just the fact of representing India in a world event are such great memories. We did not have a good score to defend in the semifinal. Maybe if we could have managed a few more runs than 119 for 5, then we could have had a chance. We could not rotate the strike and it cost us. We were very eager to reach the final, but T20 is a fast game, with reaction time very less for every action. We did not cope up.

Winner of ICC Women’s World Twenty20 2012 – Australia. ©ICC

2012 in Sri Lanka: Marina Iqbal

(It was the first time Pakistan beat India in any format)

We had a balanced team in 2012, and the game against India was a good one. We were, in fact, expecting better results against other teams also. But, overall it was a good learning experience.

I did not get many opportunities but, I came lower down the order against India, and I managed to pull out a six off the second ball of the final over. I just made up my mind and went for it against Anuja Patil. That was my first international six and is something I still reminisce about. It turned out to be the difference as we went on to win by one run. Pakistan-India rivalry in cricket is a different battle, very intense and everyone brings their ‘A’ game. There is a different energy among the players and it makes you want to win.

Before the India game, we lost to Australia by the Duckworth-Lewis method. We were a good bowling unit and our fielding was good but lacked a bit in the middle-order.

Winner of ICC Women’s World Twenty20 2014 – Australia. ©ICC

2014 in Bangladesh: Soniya Dabir

(India lost to Sri Lanka, and once again failed to make it to the knockouts. It was their third successive first-round exit from an ICC tournament, having failed to make it to the Super Six in the 50-over World Cup at home in 2013)

We did not qualify for the knockouts, but I remember being the player of the match in our final league game against Pakistan. I had converted from a medium pacer to a spinner and made a comeback to the team after three years, and the returns of 3 for 14 against Pakistan was a big confidence booster. I had been admitted to the hospital a day before the match because of food poisoning but came to the ground the next day feeling very positive. I made my mind that no matter what I play the match. Earlier in the tournament against England, I had dismissed Charlotte Edwards, which was a great feeling. It was the second time I was dismissing her in four outings after a gap of four years. It was encouraging.

The other funny memory I have from that tour was that two-three of us had gone out for shopping and we had five to six commandos accompanying us, which we were not used to. Even when we had to cross a road they would come with us.

Winner of ICC Women’s ICC World Twenty20 2016 – West Indies. ©ICC

2016 in India: Mithali Raj (at the press conference after the first-round exit in the tournament)

(India were on a high having recorded a T20I series win in Australia and against Sri Lanka at home. Tagged as favourites to win the title at home, they beat Bangladesh in the opening game but lost three close games against England, Pakistan and West Indies and crashed out in the first round)

Though we could not make it to the semifinals, I am proud of the way the girls have fought in the last three games and got the team back into the game. There are always slip-ups in the game, but with this experience of having handled pressure, the girls will be able to do better in the coming tournaments. The batting unit was not coordinated. We had players who scores those 20s and 30s, but we have not got somebody who could take the team along. Even those who hit form on a particular day could not carry the team along.

(On expectations after the series win in Australia) Australian wickets are good batting tracks and don’t change much in the second innings. Even the spinners don’t have much assistance there. In such big events (like World T20), it is very important to be consistent in the departments where you are doing well. As a fielding unit, we were inconsistent. When we thought we were squeezing them for runs, we let down ourselves with slip-ups through boundaries. We need to work on planning strategies, asking girls to work on fitness and run hard between the wickets. At crucial times, it is important to know how to have a composed mind. When it comes to the World Cup, there will always be pressure. The girls need to accept that and work around it. The girls will take a lot of positives from this series and try to implement them going into the 2017 World Cup.

Crystal-ball gazing

Amita: India’s strengths are spinners and middle-order batting. Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues are also good at the top. India should play three-four spinners because big teams like Australia and England are not that comfortable against them. Also, the pitches in Windies are slow, which will assist the spinners. The other reason for India to rely on spinners is the absence of Jhulan, who was the pace spearhead for 15 years. Pooja Vastrakar will be my lead pacer in place of Jhulan. She can bat also. Batting wise, Mithali and Harmanpreet Kaur will be the stars.

Dabir: This team is ready to take risks and responsibilities, and can reach the knockouts. They are mentally prepared to fight it out. There are few allrounders and in every match, different players are taking responsibility. They are here to dominate. Everyone is aggressive and there is positiveness. We have always depended on our spinners, but batting is also good. Mithali recently got a century, and then there are Smriti, Jemimah, Veda Krishnamurthy, Harman and Anuja.

Iqbal: The recently concluded series against Australia helped Pakistan learn a few things before the World T20. The mindset also changes after playing against the No.1-ranked team as you gain confidence by doing well against them. A T20 game change in one or two overs and we once again have a strong spin attack. We just need to divide partnerships in batting. Bismah will not be the captain, but she will lead the batting department and guide the youngsters. Everyone knows their role, but it is not easy to perform in T20s. The team, though, is united.

Apart from Sana (Mir), Bismah, Javeria (Khan), Nida (Dar) and Nahida (Khan), rest are youngsters with serious potential. I am really impressed by the way Omaima Sohail played against Australia. Pakistan are in a strong pool, and whoever plays well on the day wins. It’s not about rankings, but about nerves. The stronger you are mentally, the better you can deliver. I hope Pakistan will be targetting India and Ireland (as the teams to beat). They can also target Australia because now they know their weaknesses. It should be a good contest.

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