Women’s T20 World Cup: India to Bank on Spin Quartet Down Under

The 2020 edition of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup is only a couple of days away and the Indian eves had quite the preparation for it as they came up with a spirited and highly competitive performance in the recently concluded T20I tri-series played between them, host Australia, and England.

Even though they couldn’t go on to win the final against the Kangaroos, they came up with strong performances throughout the series, which included a win against the same Australian side before the finals as well.

Smriti Mandhana made the headlines as usual with her batting efforts as she emerged as the highest run-getter in the series.

However, another facet of this Indian side that attracted quite some attention was the brilliant performance of their spinners in these conditions.

The Indian spinners accounted for a combined tally of 23 wickets during the series at an excellent strike-rate and a decent economy rate of 17.5 and 7.04 respectively.

Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Deepti Sharma were impressive in particular as they accounted for 17 of these 23 wickets with the former being the highest wicket-taker among all the bowlers with 10 scalps to her name. Sharma, meanwhile, ended as the the joint third-highest wicket-taker having claimed a total of seven wickets at 19.71.

Radha Yadav also deserves to be mentioned as she chipped in with five wickets at a decent economy rate of 7.51.

In fact, Indian spinners performing well is usually the norm irrespective of the conditions. Moreover, it has traditionally been India’s go-to option and has been so in recent times as well as numbers suggest since the end of the last T20 World Cup.

However, their performances in the tri-series series did surprise quite a few. The kind of success they had in conditions which are considered to provide fast and bouncy tracks should have startled quite a few.

But a closer look at the historical performances of spinners in women's T20Is in Australia tells a different story.

Statistically speaking, spinners have been a much better wicket-taking option over the years in these conditions than pacers. Their economy rate has been marginally better as well.

Thus, the recently-concluded series actually goes on to prove that the Indian spinners read the conditions well and it should have acted as a major morale booster ahead of the mega event that gets underway on Friday.

The heavy reliance of the Indian bowling department on their spinners is also explained by the fact that no other spin-bowling unit has delivered more than their tally of 382.4 overs in women's T20Is since the end of the 2018 Women's T20 World Cup. Only the English spinners come close, having bowled 335 overs, followed by South Africa and Australia with a tally of 299.4 and 279.4 overs respectively.

India have named four spinners – Deepti Sharma, Radha Yadav, Poonam Yadav and Rajeshwari Gayakwad – for the upcoming edition.

While Gayakwad and Radha are left-arm orthodox spinners, Sharma bowls right-arm off-breaks. Poonam, on the other hand, gives India an X-factor with her leg-spin.

Meanwhile, Deepti’s career, with a T20I economy rate of 5.88, speaks for her ability to restrict the opposition besides being a potent wicket-taking option.

Since the end of the 2018 T20 World Cup, no other spinner (from the eight teams that qualified for this edition of the T20 World Cup directly) has taken more wickets than Deepti. She is the joint-highest wicket-taker during this period along with 19-year-old Radha who although has leaked runs at 6.20, has a better strike rate than Deepti.

Poonam Yadav, who was India’s joint-highest wicket-taker in the last T20 World Cup and is also India’s highest wicket-taker in this format at the moment, hasn’t been far behind the duo with her performances during this period. 

Even though she didn’t feature in the recent tri-series, she showed that she is up for the challenge in Australia as she powered India to a thrilling two-run victory over West Indies with her spell of 4-0-20-3 in the recent warm-up fixture of the Women’s T20 World Cup.

Rajeshwari Gayakwad was the highest wicket-taker of the recently-concluded tri-series in Australia.

Last but not the least; Gayakwad has also proved her mettle in recent times. Her performance in the recent tri-series has surely cemented her place in India’s starting XI during the mega event.

With a mean economy rate of just 6.30 and a sensational strike rate of 12.0, Gayakwad has shown that she can flourish both as a defensive and attacking option.

With such variety in their arsenal, India have a happy headache of opting between the names. The batting ability of Sharma and Radha is only an added bonus for the duo.

Although the side has to put up enough runs for their bowlers to defend, but even on odd days when they fail, captain Harmanpreet Kaur would be aware that she has a battalion that can win her games from dire situations.

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