In their five T20Is against Australia starting from Friday at the DY Patil Stadium, India have left out off-spin all-rounders Sneh Rana and Dayalan Hemalatha as well as big-hitting batter Kiran Navgire, who was seen as a finisher in the side.
Instead, they have brought in left-arm fast-bowler Anjali Sarvani, who topped the bowling charts in the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy (with 17 scalps) and Senior Women’s Inter-Zonal T20 Trophy (10 wickets). Alongside her, leg-spin allrounder Devika Vaidya also marks a return to the T20I setup after eight years.
On the eve of the series opener, captain Harmanpreet Kaur said the door to the India T20I team was not closed on Sneh, Dayalan, and Kiran, but that consistent domestic performers like Anjali and Devika have been rewarded with call-ups to the national team.
“The members of the team have performed well, especially the new girls who have done really well in the domestic circuit. If you talk about Anjali, she took the highest wickets and then others have done well too and won matches for their respective teams. Selection depends on your performances and those who have done well are in the side.”
“For Sneh Rana and all are good players; in the upcoming tournaments whenever they’ll do well, they’ll definitely come back. We are always having an eye on them. It’s not like if today they are not on the side, we are ignoring them. Definitely they are part of the system and when they perform, they will come back,” she said in the pre-match press conference.
When India will play against Australia in the T20I series opener on Friday, the equal pay policy, which was announced in October, will come into effect. As per the policy, India women’s players will get INR 15 lakh per Test match, INR 6 lakh per ODI, and INR 3 lakh for a T20I game. Harmanpreet believes that equal pay policy will bring more responsibility on women cricketers.
“It’s an outstanding decision taken by the BCCI. As a sportsperson, we always want to get that recognition, and equal pay is something which will bring a lot of motivation for the current players and the upcoming stars. The motivation given by the BCCI that gives us a lot of responsibility now because whenever we go out to play now, we know many people are watching us and want to give our 100 per cent.”
“We have played really well, and the last three months have been very special for the way we played. We are looking very positive and with Hrishi sir (Hrishikesh Kanitkar as batting coach) in, he also brings in a lot of positivity.”
Harmanpreet also thinks that pay parity will bring a change towards how women’s cricket is viewed in the country and that it should extend to domestic competitions in future. “This was the first step, and I am sure, going forward, there will be a lot of good news for women’s cricket. For that, we have to take a lot of responsibility as a team and play very good cricket. We have been reaching finals of the tournament but could not lift the major titles. But still, the way we are playing has changed a lot of things in the country.”
“I am sure the BCCI must be thinking about (equal pay) in domestic cricket as well. Domestic cricket is very important. Now, the Women’s IPL is coming, and all those things will be important for domestic cricketers. There is money involved, and with that we will get a lot of good domestic matches. Things are and will come to you. We just need to perform.”
Harmanpreet revealed that opener Shafali Verma and wicketkeeper-batter Richa Ghosh will not play all five T20Is against Australia due to the duo being a part of the India squad for the inaugural Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa.
With the tournament happening in January, they will also miss the tri-series featuring hosts’ South Africa and West Indies due to the clash of dates. The tri-series marked an important preparation for the Indian team in the lead-up to the senior Women’s T20 World Cup from February 10-26.
“The U-19 camp will start after a few days and for Richa and Shafali, this tournament (against Australia) is important. They are part of the U-19 World Cup, but before that if they get a chance to play against Australia, it will boost their confidence.”
“Till the (India U19) camp is announced, they will definitely join the Under-19 camp as Shafali is leading. When we will play the tri-series in South Africa, they are definitely not available because they will be playing the Under-19 World Cup. For that, we have other players who will come in and join,” she concluded.