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Five first-timers who impressed at the World Cup

From Charlie Dean to Fatima Sana, here's a look at a group of potential stars for the future

S Sudarshanan
S Sudarshanan
Sophia Dunkley was in sparkling form against South Africa, hitting a 72-ball 60  •  ICC via Getty Images

Sophia Dunkley was in sparkling form against South Africa, hitting a 72-ball 60  •  ICC via Getty Images

The 12th edition of the Women's World Cup drew to a close on Sunday, with Australia adding a seventh trophy to their cabinet. Here's a look at five up-and-coming players who impressed during the tournament despite limited 50-over international experience.
Sophia Dunkley (England)
Having made her ODI debut last June, Sophia Dunkley had an important spot in England's lower-middle order, taking over from Fran Wilson, who quit last year. Dunkley made regular contributions throughout the World Cup, not just with the bat but also on the field, often in the deep. She scored back-to-back half-centuries - in England's last league match against Bangladesh and in the semi-final against South Africa - to help the side post what turned out to be match-winning totals. She finished with 291 runs, second behind Nat Sciver's 436 for England.
Yastika Bhatia (India)
After a rough start to her international career, Yastika Bhatia came into the World Cup having batted in the middle order in each of her seven ODIs. But in India's second game of the tournament, she was brought in to open in place of an out-of-form Shafali Verma. She played a couple of contrasting knocks before being pushed down to her regular No. 3 position, where she returned successive fifties against Australia and Bangladesh. Though she failed to convert her starts into something substantial at times, her impressive strokeplay showed she could be one for the long haul.
Alana King (Australia)
While Alana King is 26, she made her international debut just over a month before the World Cup. Her 16 wickets in the WBBL 2021 saw her leapfrog Amanda-Jade Wellington in the pecking order after Georgia Wareham was out injured. She picked up three wickets in each of her outings against England - both in the league-stage game as well as in the final - to stamp her class. In the league game, she bluffed a set Tammy Beaumont to have her stumped before cleaning up Dunkley towards the end with the game in the balance. In the final, she dismissed Heather Knight and Dunkley at crucial junctures to dent England's chances, and finished joint-fourth on the wickets' chart with 12 strikes.
Fatima Sana (Pakistan)
Named ICC Women's Emerging Cricketer of the Year in 2021, Fatima Sana finished with seven wickets in as many games. She exhibited her full range of skills in the match against South Africa, where she picked up three wickets. She had Lizelle Lee with the new ball and then, at the death, dismissed a set Sune Luus and deceived Trisha Chetty with a slower ball. Though she showed last year that she can be handy with the bat, Sana didn't trouble the scorers much in the World Cup.
Charlie Dean (England)
In the inaugural edition of the Hundred, Charlie Dean made a name for herself by getting big wickets, finishing with six overall, the second-most for London Spirit. Left out of the XI for England's first two games, Dean showed her worth by picking up four wickets against India and then a couple more against New Zealand. What stood out was her smart use of the arm-ball along with her offbreaks. She picked up nine of her 11 wickets in the competition in just three matches. Dean also showed her ability with the bat in the final, scoring 21 off 24 balls in a 65-run ninth-wicket partnership with Sciver.

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo