The 2022 edition of the Women’s T20 Challenge culminated on Saturday and like its predecessors, it threw up plenty of exciting cricket. The Supernovas began the season with a bang before being halted by Velocity. The Trailblazers then had a shot at qualifying but missed out due to an inferior Net Run Rate. In simpler words, drama was not at a premium.
In the summit clash, the Supernovas battled Velocity, with the former ultimately triumphing by 4 runs. It was a contest that summed up everything good about women’s cricket, considering neither side wanted to give the other an inch and kept fighting until the last ball.
As always, this season of the Women’s T20 Challenge also saw several standout performers, making our task of choosing the best eleven particularly difficult. But akin to the heart these cricketers have shown throughout the Women’s T20 Challenge, we are going to take up this mantle, hoping to put forward an eleven that covers most bases and would give any international outfit a run for its money.
Without further ado, here is a look at the Women’s T20 Challenge Team of the Season.
Women's T20 Challenge team of the tournament
Openers – S Meghana and Shafali Verma (wk)
For some reason, Meghana was dropped for the Trailblazers’ opening fixture against the Supernovas. The Trailblazers, rather unsurprisingly, struggled with the bat and folded – a defeat that severely dented their hopes of retaining the title. In the very next game, Meghana did everything in her power to portray how the Trailblazers had botched up by excluding her.
She powered the ball down the ground. Sat deep in her crease and slashed the ball past point. And more importantly, showed an inclination to not let the opposition settle. It was, in many ways, congruent to what Shafali Verma did for Velocity.
Shafali notched up a match-winning fifty against the Supernovas in the group stage and while she couldn’t follow it up with a similar display in the final, she still did enough throughout the tournament to make herself a shoo-in. Oh, and Shafali will also be keeping wickets in this side, having done so for Haryana primarily in the 2018-19 domestic season.
Meghana and Shafali walking out together? Well, it might not be long before it happens for India too.
Middle order – Jemimah Rodrigues, Harmanpreet Kaur (C), Laura Wolvaardt, Deandra Dottin
The middle order is very flexible in that any of these cricketers could also bat in the top three. Each has had a stellar Women’s T20 Challenge campaign in 2022 and while they might be slotted a little out of position, it would’ve been unfair had they not been included altogether.
Jemimah saw her teammates wilt under pressure in the first game. She still tried her best but it was in the next encounter that she came into her own, smashing a half-century and enthralling everyone with her graceful stroke-play.
Harmanpreet and Wolvaardt were the lynchpins of their respective batting units. The South African, who enjoyed a stunning 2022 Women’s World Cup, was in prime form in the Women’s T20 Challenge too, scoring 133 runs at a stunning strike rate of 146.15. Harmanpreet, meanwhile, was the leading run-getter at the Women’s T20 Challenge.
The other batter to score more 100 runs or more in the Women’s T20 Challenge 2022 was Dottin. She didn’t come to the party until the final but when she did, she single-handedly won the Supernovas the title. She, alongside Harmanpreet, will also be key bowlers in this line-up.
Lower order – Kiran Navgire, Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar
It might seem a bit of a travesty that Kiran is slated as a lower order batter. But no one in this team quite has the six-hitting ability she has. She will function as a finisher and could have a chance to emulate her idol MS Dhoni. Deepti hasn’t been very influential with the bat lately but has the technique and the temperament to avert potential collapses. Pooja, on the other hand, can be a floater – usually sent to maximise the death-overs.
Bowling wise, Deepti is capable of bowling in different stages of an innings. With fast-bowling talent not coming through as rapidly, she could be a crucial bowler at the death. Pooja, too, can bowl during various phases, although she will be handed the new ball in this particular set-up, considering the movement she is capable of extracting.
Bowlers – Kate Cross, Sophie Ecclestone
Cross and Ecclestone will feel a little aggrieved that they’ve been dubbed “bowlers” and not “all-rounders”. But there is no denying that they are pretty good at their primary skill. Cross got the ball to move prodigiously throughout the Women’s T20 Challenge. She took a bit of tap in the final but that was more an anomaly than anything else.
Ecclestone, meanwhile, is the epitome of a clutch player. Whenever the Supernovas found themselves in trouble in the Women’s T20 Challenge, Ecclestone stood up. She even bowled the last over in the final and ensured that that weren’t any further hiccups.
If the new-ball bowlers don’t quite have the desired impact, Ecclestone could bowl in the powerplay. And of course, tie batters in knots at the death. Her selection is a no-brainer.