India taking the Women's T20 Challenge route to find middle-order batter

S Sudarshanan
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Twitteratis react to Harmanpreet Kaur's stormy hundred

Harmanpreet Kaur acknowledges the crowd after reaching a milestone. ©ICC

India’s T20I batting received a boost through Shafali Verma’s explosive batting in last year’s Women’s T20 Challenge, post which, she made her debut for the national side and played the T20 World Cup this year. The next goal is to find a batter who can bat in the middle order, especially after India’s batting struggles in recent times, said Supernovas captain Harmanpreet Kaur.

“We need someone who can bat in the middle order, because right now we have a good batter who can bat at the top,” said Kaur on Tuesday (November 3), speaking ahead of the opening encounter against Velocity on Wednesday at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

“That is the area where we are struggling a little bit. If we get someone who can bat maybe after me that will be a very positive thing for us.”

In the T20 World Cup in March, Verma scored 163 runs at the top, striking at 158.25. However, the next best score was of Deepti Sharma, who made 116 with the bat to go with her four wickets with the ball.

One of the middle-order options in Kaur’s side is Ayushi Soni, the 20-year-old, who also bowls some handy off-spin. The skipper said that she is one of the youngsters to keep an eye on. In 2019-20, she scored 108 runs in seven T20s and also returned a couple of wickets.

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“Soni has done well in the domestics also. She is someone who has impressed us,” said the 31-year-old about the Delhi player.

Reiterating her excitement at being back in action, Kaur also said that it’s not easy to analyse and judge a venue based on how men play. The IPL is being played across three venues in the UAE and the matches in Sharjah were often high-scoring ones.

“I saw all the games on TV. But you can’t analyse things based on men’s games because the pace of the women’s game is very different,” she said about watching and learning from the IPL.

“So after playing only you can gauge the wicket. We had a practice session and it was seen that the wicket had a low bounce but the ball came on to the bat nicely.”

Supernovas have won both the previous editions of the Women’s T20 Challenge and Kaur put it down to adaptability. “In tournaments like these, where you have only one or two games to qualify, you have to be very accurate and good with your decisions,” she said.

Sri Lanka’s Chamari Atapattu and Shashikala Siriwardene, West Indies’ Shakera Selman and Ayabonga Khaka from South Africa are the overseas players in Supernovas this season. While Atapattu and Selman have played previously in the competition, Siriwardene and Khaka are set to make their first appearances.

“When you have overseas players in your side, you are very positive and we are very excited and looking forward to this,” she concluded.