Smriti Mandhana is in line to make her captaincy debut when India host England for three T20Is that follow the championship ODIs. The elevation to leadership comes after Harmanpreet Kaur, the designated T20I captain, was ruled out of the series because of an ankle injury.
The T20I series will be the maiden international captaincy assignment for the 22-year-old Mandhana, who has made 106 appearances for India, including 55 in the shortest format. Her captaincy stints in the domestic circuit include leading her state side Maharashtra, West Zone, and India Blue to the Challenger Trophy title in January 2018. Most recently, she led the Board President’s XI against a full-strength England squad in a warm-up game at the Wankhede Stadium.
Veda Krishnamurthy, the middle-order batsman, who missed the tour of New Zealand after poor returns at the World T20, returned to the side. Left-arm fast bowler Komal Zanzad was named in place of Mansi Joshi, while the batting pair of Priya Punia and D Hemalatha were left out in favour of Harleen Deol and Bharati Fulmali.
Punia’s ouster comes on the back of a poor debut series in New Zealand, where she managed just nine runs in three innings. Hemalatha too had a forgettable tour, making a 32-ball 13 in her only outing with the bat. She remained wicketless across formats.
This is a maiden national call-up for Zanzad, who took 3 for 14 for Board President’s XI against England last week. Zanzad, who plays for Vidarbha, had previously impressed at the Challenger Trophy.
Meanwhile, Mithali Raj’s presence adds the much-needed depth to the middle order in Harmanpreet’s absence. Raj’s T20I future has been subject of much debate in recent times. While she was left out of the first two T20Is in New Zealand, Raj’s cameo in the middle order kept India in line for a last-over win in the final game in Hamilton.
Shikha Pandey will lead the pace attack, with Zanzad and Arundhati Reddy for company. As expected, India went in with as many as five frontline spinners in the squad – Ekta Bisht, Radha Yadav, Poonam Yadav, Anuja Patil and Deepti Sharma.
With the T20 World Cup set to be played in Australia in the first half of 2020, the series is yet another opportunity for the new head coach WV Raman to finalise his core group of players.
Since losing the World T20 semi-final to England, India have been blanked 3-0 in the shortest format in New Zealand, losing all games from winning positions.
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.