India Women will be seen in action once again this month as they gear up to face off against Bangladesh in three ODIs and as many T20Is. The BCCI has announced the squads for the games, which will be played in Mirpur.
The T20I squad has been met with severe criticism. Although it features call-ups for fresh faces like Rashi Kanojiya, Anusha Bareddy and Uma Chetry, it has several notable exclusions that just don't make much sense on paper.
India’s T20I squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Deepti Sharma, Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Harleen Deol, Devika Vaidya, Uma Chetry (wk), Amanjot Kaur, S. Meghana, Pooja Vastrakar, Meghna Singh, Anjali Sarvani, Monica Patel, Rashi Kanojiya, Anusha Bareddy, Minnu Mani.
Here are three players who were unlucky to be left out of India Women's T20I squad for the Bangladesh series.
Honorable Mentions: Radha Yadav, Renuka Singh Thakur
#3 Rajeshwari Gayakwad
Why has Rajeshwari Gayakwad been left out? One possible reason could be her indifferent Women's Premier League (WPL) campaign for the UP Warriorz (UPW), and another could be her slightly underwhelming performances for the Women in Blue ahead of the franchise tournament.
However, dropping Gayakwad doesn't seem like the right way forward, especially because India have dropped their other left-arm spinner, Radha Yadav, and haven't picked the best one on display in WPL 2023, Saika Ishaque. The 32-year-old tweaker should've ideally been handed a longer rope in such a scenario.
Gayakwad has picked up 58 wickets in 55 T20Is at an economy rate of 6.22, and her experience would've greatly helped the side against the Tigresses. She has returned nine wickets from seven matches at an economy rate of 4.6 in T20Is played in Bangladesh.
#2 Richa Ghosh
Gayakwad being dropped is unfortunate, but there is at least some way to reason it out. With Richa Ghosh, all logic flies out of the window when attempting to find grounds for her exclusion.
Not only is Richa India's best option to don the gloves in the shortest format, with Yastika Bhatia's game not being developed enough yet, but she is also arguably the best batter at the team's disposal. Her six-hitting ability and range are skills that are impossible to replicate by any of the other players, especially Yastika and the uncapped Uma Chetry.
Richa wasn't at her best for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in WPL 2023, but that was mostly an issue with game awareness and not ability. The only way to make the 19-year-old a world-beater is by giving her more exposure at the top level since it's beyond any reasonable doubt that she belongs there.
#1 Shikha Pandey
What has Shikha Pandey done to anger the selectors? The experienced pacer inexplicably spent a period of time on the sidelines before making a comeback ahead of WPL 2023 but now finds herself on the fringes once again.
In what makes the decision to leave her out even stranger, Shikha was easily the best Indian pacer on display during WPL 2023. In nine matches, she scalped 10 wickets at an economy rate of 6.59 and impressed all with her control, variations and all-phase ability.
Shikha would surely be an upgrade on the likes of Meghna Singh, Monica Patel and Anjali Sarvani. Her lower-order hitting and experience are also virtues that cannot be ignored while protesting her exclusion.
Poll : Are Richa Ghosh and Shikha Pandey India's best batter and fast bowler respectively in T20Is?