Nattakan Chantham becomes first Thai cricketer to feature in Women’s T20 Challenge

Nattakan Chantham in action. © ICC

Thailand opener Nattakan Chantham has become the first player from any associate nation to feature in the Women’s T20 Challenge after the BCCI announced the squads on Sunday (October 11). As many as 12 overseas players have been distributed among the three teams with several new faces this time.

Like last year, Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana and Mithali Raj will lead Supernovas, Trailblazers and Velocity respectively. Supernovas will play Velocity in the tournament opener on November 4. Velocity will play their second against Trailblazers the next day. The Trailblazers versus Supernovas encounter will be played on November 7. The final is on November 9.

England players Sophie Ecclestone and Danielle Wyatt, Shakera Selman from West Indies, Sri Lanka’s Chamari Atapattu and Jahanara Alam from Bangladesh, who were there last year will be again seen in action this time in the UAE. Women’s CricZone were the first to report Ayabonga Khaka would be a part of the tournament. The website also broke the news of Sri Lanka’s  Shashikala Siriwardene playing in the event.

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Among the other new faces, are Sune Luus from South Africa, Deandra Dottin from West Indies, Bangladesh T20 skipper Salma Khatun and New Zealand’s Leigh Kasperek. This will also be the first time young Richa Ghosh will be a part of the tournament, who made her India debut in Australia earlier this year.

Chantham came into the spotlight when she became the first Thai player to score a half-century in a T20 World Cup against Pakistan earlier this year. The right-hander smashed a 50-ball 56 against the likes of Nida Dar and Daina Baig to help Thailand post their maiden 150-run mark at the world stage, which was incidentally their debut in the perennial event.

West Indies pacer Selman, who played for Trailblazers last year, has been drafted into Supernovas this time, while Atapattu, Alam, Ecclestone and Wyatt have been kept in the same teams they played in 2019. While the squads are almost the same as the last year, there are several new young domestic faces in the mix keeping in mind the inaugural U-19 Women’s World Cup the next year.

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All four matches will be played in Sharjah. The Indian contingent will be arriving in Mumbai on October 13 where they will have to stay in isolation for a week before they fly out to Dubai on October 21. There they will be joined by the overseas stars and the whole contingent will be put up in the same hotel (as a part of the bio-secure bubble) and will stay in isolation till October 28. During that period they will have three COVID-19 tests and upon coming negative the teams will start training at Sharjah International Stadium.

All eyes will be on hard-hitting allrounder Dottin who had been in tremendous form in the recently-concluded T20I series against England last month. The pint-sized player scored a couple of half-centuries on the tour and almost single-handedly steered the West Indies ship in the five-match series.

Among the U-19 players, the selectors have included top-order batter from Uttar Pradesh Muskan Malik, Chandigarh seamer Kashvee Gautam and Karnataka left-arm spinner M Anagha. Apart from the trio, the tournament will also see Delhi allrounders Ayushi Soni and Simran Dil Bahadur. Ayushi bowls off-spin and bats in the lower middle-order while Simran is a seamer and bats left-handed.

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Mumbai seamer Manali Dakshini, who has been a regular in the India A setup since last year have also been included. Manali and Simran were part of India A squad that won the 2019 Emerging Asia Cup in Sri Lanka under Devika Vaidya. Manali travelled with India A side to Australia as well. Simran, Ayushi and Manali also took part in the quadrangular series involving Bangladesh and Thailand in January earlier this year.

The domestic names which are missing from last year include Komal Zanzad, Jasia Akhtar, Bharati Fulmali and Ravi Kalpana.

Squads:

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 and Muskan Malik.

TRAILBLAZERS: 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, Nattakan Chantham, Deandra Dottin and 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 and M Anagha.