India have announced the 15-member squad for the five-match T20I series at home against Australia on Friday (December 2). The series is scheduled to be played from December 9 to 20 in Mumbai. Left-arm pacer Anjali Sarvani has received her maiden call-up to the side while leg-spinning allrounder Devika Vaidya makes a return after a gap of four years. Yastika Bhatia and Harleen Deol have also made a comeback.
There have been four changes from the squad that won the Asia Cup 2022 in Bangladesh with Pooja Vastrakar missing out due to an injury. Other omissions are off-spinner Sneh Rana, Dayalan Hemalatha, and Kiran Navgire from that side.
Left-arm pacers Shraddha Pokharkar and Monica Patel have been named as net bowlers along with Arundhati Reddy and Simran Dil Bahadur. Yastika will take up the reserve wicket-keep duties in place of Taniya Bhatia with Richa Ghosh as the first choice wicket-keeper.
Sarvani had an excellent domestic season 2022-23 as she helped Railways and Central Zone win titles in the respective tournaments. She also performed well for the India A side even as they went down against India D in the final of the T20 Challenger Trophy. Incidentally Rana, who led India D to the trophy in the tournament, won’t feature in the Australia series. Sarvani picked up 30 wickets at an average of 9.40 from 20 matches during the season.
Vaidya last played for India in the ODI series against England in 2018 and since then has captained India A and Emerging sides. The wrist-spinner will add variety to the squad which has largely been dominated by finger spinners in recent times. She is also an effective batter who can bring in that left-hand factor in the lower middle-order. Vaidya scored 232 runs from 12 innings in 2022-23 season, while also picking up 16 wickets from 16 matches at an average of 17.12.
Both Yastika and Deol had two back-to-back successful seasons in the T20 format with Yastika scoring 638 runs at an average of 70.88 this season. The south paw can perform multiple role in the line-up providing back-up keeping option as well as a choice for the top-order.
Deol, on the other hand, performed both with the bat and the ball as she racked up 330 runs and picked up 15 wickets during the current season. Shikha Pandey hasn’t found a place once again despite Vastrakar’s absence. Renuka Singh Thakur will lead the pace-bowling contingent with Sarvani and Meghna Singh providing other options.
India: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Renuka Singh Thakur, Meghna Singh, Anjali Sarvani, Devika Vaidya, S Meghana, Richa Ghosh (wk), Harleen Deol
Net bowlers: Monica Patel, Arundhati Reddy, Shraddha Pokharkar, Simran Dil Bahadur