(From L-R): Shafali Verma, Tejashwini Duragad, Tarannum Pathan, Reema Malhotra, Gouher Sultana, Priya Punia.

The inaugural Women’s CricZone honours – Elixir Honours – were hosted in Bhubaneswar along with the release of the second issue of the Women’s CricZone Magazine on Tuesday (January 7, 2020). The honours were largely based on three categories: International, India International and India Domestic.

You can know more about the International honours here.

INDIA DOMESTIC HONOURS

The winners were picked based on their performances in the domestic circuit in the season 2018-19.

Over the last couple of years, since the Indian team’s incredible run in the 2017 Women’s World Cup in England, the attention of the country has turned towards the women’s team. Although they are still jostling for space in the mainstream media, the team and players of the country have carved out a place for themselves in the public imagination. The strength of any international side is testament to the quality of players in the domestic circuit.

Junior Bowler: Tejashwini Duragad

Matches: 33, Overs: 205.3, Wickets: 68, Best: 5-3, Avg: 8.04, Eco.R: 2.66

Leg-spinner Tejashwini Duragad took 68 wickets over six age-group tournaments in the 2018-19 season. She was the highest wicket-taker in the Under-19 one-day matches where she led Goa into the knockout stage, taking 26 wickets in eight matches at an average of 4.30. Her feats saw her being selected for both the Under-19 and Under-23 Challenger trophy teams.

Junior Batter: Shafali Verma

Matches: 30, NO: 4, Runs: 1467, HS: 132, Avg: 48.90, SR: 176.53, 100s: 6, 50s: 3

15-year-old Shafali Verma took the country by storm when she slammed a 31-ball 34 in the first match of the Women’s T20 Challenge, playing for Velocity. It was on the back of an exceptional domestic season that Verma earned her place in that line-up. In 30 age-group matches, the right-hander blasted 1467 runs at an incredible strike rate of 176.53 across formats, including six centuries. She has since made her debut at the international level, becoming the youngest Indian – across genders – to score a half-century for India in international cricket.

Senior Bowler: Tarannum Pathan

Matches: 18, Overs: 138.3, Wickets: 39, Best: 5/26, Avg: 10.51, Eco.R: 2.96

Tarannum Pathan played an integral role in Baroda’s run to the quarter-final of the Senior Women’s One-Day Championship, where she topped the bowling charts with 24 wickets in nine matches. Her season tally of 39 wickets in three tournaments came at an average of 10.51 and an incredible economy rate of 2.96. The off-spinner also played an important part in India Red’s win in the One-Day Challenger Trophy, taking a best of 3 for 22 in a nail-biting final against India Blue.

Senior Batter: Priya Punia

Matches: 30, NO: 4, Runs: 1467, HS: 132, Avg: 48.90, SR: 176.53, 100s: 6, 50s: 3

In October 2019, Priya Punia became the seventh Indian to score a half-century on ODI debut. While it may have looked like easy work to the outside world, it was Punia’s mountain of runs at the domestic level that saw her selected to play at the highest level. Through the 2018-19 season, the elegant right-hander slammed over 900 runs in 25 matches at an average of over 40 and a strike rate of 83, across formats at the senior level. Her steady approach at the top of the order often got Delhi off to a terrific start, allowing them to pile on the runs at the back end of the innings.

Domestic Stalwart: Reema Malhotra

In the years gone by, Reema Malhotra was fondly known as the ‘Domestic Queen’, piling on runs for various teams under the auspices of the Women’s Cricket Association of India. Since 2006, however, once women’s cricket came under the purview of the BCCI, Reema plied her trade for Delhi, Indian Railways, North Zone and Central Zone in the domestic circuit, scoring over 4000 runs and taking more than 250 wickets across formats. She was part of Delhi’s one-day championship-winning team in 2011, and more recently led them to the T20 title in 2017-18, before leading North Zone to the Inter-Zonal three-day championship in the same season.

Domestic Stalwart: Gouher Sultana

Among the players still plying their trade in the domestic circuit, Gouher Sultana is the most successful spinner with over 400 wickets to her credit. In close to 300 matches in the limited-overs’ format, the left-arm spinner has tasted success as part of Hyderabad, Railways, South Zone, Central Zone and now Bengal. To quote one of her former teammates, Gouher is “one of the most skilled bowlers and easily the best tactician in the circuit at the moment. She epitomises the qualities of discipline, dedication, determination, hard-work and perseverance. She is one of the most approachable seniors, always ready with advice and encouragement; and aside from being incredible with the ball and in the field, she is a gutsy batter with a mean cover drive!”

INDIA INTERNATIONAL HONOURS

The numbers are considered for the calendar year 2019.

Best Bowler: Poonam Yadav

When players from the opposition are wary of a bowler, you know how good she has been in the recent past. Poonam Yadav often spun a web around batters, leaving them in a tangle, and her wickets column underlined just that. Of the 35 wickets she took in 2019, 25 came in victories. Her willingness to toss the ball up, vary her pace and extract turn on almost any surface has been the stand out. More often than not, whenever she plays, it is almost a given that she will pick a wicket or two in the middle overs.

Best batter: Smriti Mandhana

An average of over 70, and a strike rate of almost 95 in ODIs… These are numbers hard to ignore, but they are of course what the country has come to expect from Smriti Mandhana. The left-hander began the year in scintillating touch blasting a ton and an unbeaten 90 in successive matches against New Zealand in New Zealand to headline India’s first bilateral series win in the country. Through the course of 2019, Mandhana was involved in all of India’s 100-run stands – across formats – at the top of the order. When she burst on to the scene in 2013, it seemed only a matter of time before she became one of India’s batting centrepieces, and now, over the last couple of seasons she has built on that promise – becoming a match-winner.

Cricketer of the Year: Deepti Sharma

In many ways 2019 seemed to be the coming of age of Deepti Sharma, the allrounder. Following her successful stint in the WCSL with the ball, her overall confidence as a cricketer, and the way which she goes about her business – especially with the ball – is at a different level. Her ability to both choke the flow of runs and take wickets to derail the opposition has come to the fore in recent times. Through 2019, the off-spinner had taken a total of 34 wickets across formats – her biggest haul in a calendar year. In addition to that, she has made some handy contributions with the bat, and in the field as well.

LEGEND OF THE GAME: Shantha Rangaswamy

Legend – this is a term that is often used interchangeably with longevity. But if, in the women’s game, if the term fits someone well it is Shantha Rangaswamy. Anyone who has interacted with her or been with her will vouch for her humble and caring nature, soft-spoken personality and her willingness to look at the welfare of players. The former India allrounder left an indelible mark during her days on the field. She captained India in their first-ever Test match, leading them to their first win in the format, too. She also score India’s first Test match century and hit the country’s first six in the traditional format as well. She largely held the middle order together and didn’t shy away from taking the new ball either – her big in-swingers proving lethal against a touring West Indies all those years ago. Carrying forward her tale of firsts off the field, Shantha entered the managing committee of the Karnataka State Cricket Association, becoming the first woman to do so, before leaving the post to become the female representative in BCCI’s apex council.

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