Continuing from where we left off in Part I (Men), here is my line up for an India All-Decade Women's Team.
While in the men's section, we had definitive stars across each position, when it comes to our women's team, the distinctions begin to blur. Barring the 6'2 Geethu Anna Rahul, some of India's top individual performers over the last decade flit between positions 1-3 or 2-4. Or in the case of the versatile Shireen Limaye, from 1 to 4!
Indian All-Decade Women's Team
- PG: Shireen Limaye, Backup: Barkha Sonkar, Third option: Kavita Akula
- SG: Anitha Pauldurai, Backup: Raspreet Sidhu
- SF: Jeena Scaria, Backup: Prashanti Singh
- PF: Anjana PG, Backup: Navaneetha PU
- C: Geethu Anna Rahul, Backup: Stephy Nixon, Third option: Poonam Chaturvedi
The multi-faceted Shireen Limaye is the Indian women basketball team's closest answer to LeBron James. You think that is an exaggeration? Think again. The precocious Limaye made her senior India team debut in her teens and immediately cemented herself in the line-up. At 5'10 Limaye has excellent handles for her size. A willing playmaker, Limaye knows how to keep defenders at her hip while being able to make pinpoint passes to her teammates for open jumpers. Add to that, Limaye's proven ability to win games down the stretch, and we have a bonafide superstar who is still only 24-years-old.
At the shooting guard position, we have the veterans Anitha Pauldurai and Raspreet Sidhu. Deceptively good scorers, Pauldurai and Sidhu act as an extension of the coach on the floor. Both are calming presences at the two, known for their efficiency and making the right reads on every possession.
The forward positions were again a toss-up between four similarly sized players. But keeping roster balance in mind, I picked Jeena at three and Anjana at four. Said to have the highest vertical leap among current women's players, Kerala's Jeena has held her own inside the arc. With a nearly unstoppable turn around jumper, Jeena is the only current Indian women's basketball player to have had a professional stint abroad.
Leading the second unit, I have Arjuna Awardee/Padma Shri Prashanti Singh. Prashanti is a streaky shooter capable of lighting up from beyond the three-point line.
At the power forward position, it is a toss-up between the Anjana PG and Navaneetha PU. Both were impressive at the recent FIBA Women's Asia Cup, but Anjana takes the edge because of her ability as an athletic wing.
Arguably India's greatest ever basketball player- male or female- the 6'1 Geethu Anna Rahul was way ahead of her time (probably still is). Rahul had some of her best performances in the first decade of the new millennium but still makes this 2010-19 decade list with ease. Backing her up is another Kerala centre Stephy Nixon, with the towering Poonam Chaturvedi as the third option. Purely because of the multiple contenders in this position, I was forced to drop the seasoned R Rajapriyadarshini, despite her captaining the Indian team at this year's FIBA Women's Asia Cup.
Serbia's Zoran Visic is looked at as a father figure and has succeeded in going about his work quietly while staying in the good books of the Basketball Federation of India (BFI), which is no small feat. Visic was instrumental in India returning to Asia's Division A in 2017, and recent dips in performances can be put down more to questionable team selections rather than poor coaching.
Assistant Coach Aju Jacob has been rewarded for his stellar work as coach of the Kerala State Electricity Board, who has nurtured the many Kerala players on this list.
You can also listen to me breakdown my India All-Decade Men & Women's Teams on the Hoopdarshan podcast here.