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You can't please all of the people all of the time. That's an old adage and has remained topical only because it is sometimes so true. It's possibly most applicable when a selection committee reduces a group of thirty seven probables to twenty. The Women's Cricket Association of India today announced a list of twenty probables to take part in the forthcoming CricInfo Women's World Cup 2000. Anju Jain has been named the captain, and that has raised a few eyebrows. The final selection of a fifteen member squad has been put off till the 23rd of October.
Anju Jain will have at least two former captains of India playing under her - Chanderakantha Aheer and Purnima Rau. Even recently, Purnima's leadership skills were showcased for all to see. Leading India A to victory in the CricInfo 2000 Tourney, she was sometimes called upon to use every ounce of her vast experience. This was never more obvious than when she successfully defended a total of 103 against India C. Moreover, Anju Jain plays under Purnima Rau for Air India and has led the side only once, when Rau was absent. Chanderakantha Aheer was picked as skipper more for her playing prowess than her leadership qualities and one suspects that she will not be too disappointed at not being given the honour once more. Anjum Chopra, who was in the running with an outside chance, is, at 23, young, and her time in the sun will surely come in the future.
The one glaring omission in the side is that of Air India stumper Reshma Gandhi. A wicketkeeper of high pedigree, Gandhi has proven herself time and time again. She is no mug with the bat either and comes up with useful scores when the team needs it the most. As a back-up keeper, the selectors have plumped for Arundhati Kirkire. Though Kirkire is young, shows a lot of promise and is very fit, her inexperience makes her a bit of a dicey choice. With the ball swinging around in New Zealand, her batting deficiencies might well be exposed. One has to spare a thought for Gandhi, and hope that she will bounce back stronger.
Spin will be India's strength and in that department the selectors have opted for Neetu David, Purnima Rau, Deepa Kulkarni, Rupanjali Shastri, Amrita Shinde and Bindeshwari Goel. Although not the spinner she once was, Neetu David is still a handful. Deepa Kulkarni's left arm spin has been a useful weapon, whether early in the innings or in the slog overs. Purnima Rau knows more tricks of the art of offspin than most and will be a key bowler. Rupanjali Shastri is an exciting talent and looks to be shaping up well.
A long list of good batswomen beginning with Anjum Chopra and Arati Vaidya at the top of the order is reassuring. Mithali Raj is a deceptively good striker of the ball while Hemlatha Kala is one of the strongest. Kalyani Dhokarikar has been the backbone of the West Zone side for years now and her solidity in the middle order will come in handy. Amrita Shinde, also from West Zone is a bustling, energetic cricketer and it remains to be seen whether she will make it to the final fifteen. Smitha Harikrishna has made a name for herself as a gritty cricketer and one suspects she could be a key member in the team.
Renu Margaret will be India's premium mediumpacer, and that's not something she is unaccustumed to. Jhulan Goswami and Suneeta Kanojia have been included as well, but their services might not be required as both Kalyani Dhokarikar and Anjum Chopra bowl more than acceptable mediumpace.
All in all, it's a team that could be India's best. To go back to that adage, one has to say that all of the Indian people will be pleased if this team can lift the CricInfo Women's World Cup 2000.
The twenty probables are:
Anju Jain (Captain), Chanderakantha Aheer, Anjum Chopra, Neetu David, Mithali Raj, Deepa Kulkarni, Purnima Rau, Rupanjali Shastri, Hemlatha Kala, Jhulan Goswami, Kalyani Dhokarikar, Amritha Shinde, Arati Vaidya, Renu Margaret, Arundhati Kirkire, Suneeta Kanojia, Smitha Harikrishna, Kavita Roy, Bindeshwari Goel, Gulshan Sharma.