Diary

An unlikely hat-tricker, a keeper-commentator... it's the simple things that stand out

Bangladesh look set to be the story of the tournament, and the no-fuss response to the non-striker run-out was perfect

Raunak Kapoor
18-Jan-2023
Shorna Akter (L) and Dilara Akter have been key for Bangladesh  •  ICC via Getty

Shorna Akter (L) and Dilara Akter have been key for Bangladesh  •  ICC via Getty

From the simple things and a big upset kicking off proceedings to plenty of behind-the-stumps chatter, here are some key moments from the first five days of the inaugural ICC Under-19 Women's T20 World Cup.

Throwback to the simple times

No DRS, not even a TV umpire in the group stage, a practice that has been in place for the men's U-19 tournaments over the years, and players have happily accepted cricket in its imperfect form here in South Africa.
Umpires have a quick word with boundary riders on whether they have pulled the ball back or not, and even a batter who feels her foot was grounded on a close stumping call, accepts the umpire's 'out' decision and walks off without complaint. A new batter promptly takes guard even before the previous one has crossed over the boundary cushions.
All of it put together means extraordinarily impressive over rates, at times even 18 per hour.
Of course, it won't happen at the highest levels, and it shouldn't when the stakes are higher and when the right call is more important than how long it takes to get it, but for all of cricket's troubles with wasted time, there was a sweet feeling in a World Cup being played with such simplicity.

Bangladesh could well become the story of the World Cup

It's perhaps unfair to use terms like Group of Death here, but if you had to apply it here, it should be for Group A: Australia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh (along with the USA). And Disha Biswas' Bangladesh side is the story of Round 1.
That they beat Australia and Sri Lanka convincingly in their opening two games is only part of it. They're arguably the best fielding side on show. They started their campaign with a sharp chance taken at slip by Shorna Akter against Australia in the opening game of the tournament. They caught and stopped everything on a day when Australia dropped four, which seems to be the norm for a number of sides - the UAE dropped Richa Ghosh alone four times, while Ireland vs West Indies saw ten go down.
They have powered their side at the top with Afia Prottasha, who took down Sri Lanka, and Shorna in the middle - she hit the biggest six of the tournament, into the stands in Benoni against Australia. The internationally capped Dilara Akter plays perfect foil at No. 3, while Marufa Akter and captain Biswas get it to swing and shape at pace at the beginning, and then land their yorkers at the death. It's early days still, but if they keep this going, Bangladesh could well be the surprise of the tournament.

The heat after a historic hat-trick

I had the privilege of calling 18-year-old Madison Landsman's hat-trick, the first at the tournament, on commentary, and it was pure emotion.
South Africa were 43 for 6 at one stage in the game, against Scotland. They had already lost to India. They had to win here, else they would be staring at early elimination in a home tournament.
They somehow scrapped to 112 and were diving and catching everything to successfully defend the lowest score of the competition so far. The hat-trick happened and the feat found its way to the unforgiving world of social media, subject to ridicule for Landsman's slow legbreaks.
Yes, she bowls slow legspin. Yes, Scotland's lower order, in a bid to whack everything with the asking rate rising, helped her cause. But Landsman, a part-time bowler primarily in the side to score runs in the middle order like she did against India, was part of something as special as it was unexpected.
That she screamed "Oh my god!" as she ran to her team-mates in celebration demonstrated her own disbelief. There will be more wonderful stories of innocence and celebration from these women in what is the first World Cup of its kind, so let's be kind in response. Also, World Cup hat-tricks come in all shapes and forms. Just ask Steven Finn and Mohammed Shami.

Theertha's Tamil

Chennai-born UAE captain Theertha Satish took to cricket after watching the 2018 Tamil film Kanaa, a story about a farmer's daughter aspiring to play international cricket to bring a smile to her cricket-loving father's face after his heartbreak at seeing India knocked out early at the 2007 ODI World Cup. As UAE came up against the might of Shafali Verma's India in the second game for either side in Benoni on Monday, Theertha's Tamil was on constant display from behind the stumps with her strike bowler Indhuja Nandakumar and legspinner Vaishnave Mahesh (both also Chennai-born), at the receiving end of India's onslaught.
The utterances included: "paravale, nalla podre" [not bad, you're bowling well] and "Apdiye thaan poinderu" [like this only, keep going] as well as "Vaishu, pinnadi lerndhu konduva" [Vaishu, bring it from behind - bowl a googly] and "Indu, konjam maari pottru" [Indu, just change it up slightly, do something different] and "Varum varum" [it'll happen]. As it turns out, as many as 11 of the UAE's 15-member squad were fluent in Tamil. India had none.
Theertha's cricketing heroes include MS Dhoni and, true to her idol, she remained calm through the day, played some high-quality attacking shots, albeit in a brief innings, and said all the right things in the post-match presentation. "It was super exciting to play India," she said. "We want to play the strongest sides because this is the only platform we have to face such teams, it's not on a regular basis that we play cricket at this standard, and I'm pretty sure if we play such Test-playing teams and get the right practice, we'll get up there. Watching Shafali and Richa [Ghosh] just shows us how much experience matters."
A number of the UAE squad's parents were in attendance. I had bumped into Theertha's father earlier in the day and noticed he was paying close attention to his daughter's interview at the presentation. He had the proudest smile on his face.

Karabo Meso, another talkative keeper

Sticking with chatty keepers, the funniest moment for me in week one was courtesy Karabo Meso, South Africa's 15-year-old wicketkeeper, who pretty much did most of the commentary during the seventh and eighth overs of Scotland's innings via the stump mic. After seven overs, Scotland were 32 for 2 needing 81 from 78. Scotland batter Nayma Sheikh was finding it tough, not off the mark after facing eight deliveries. Then Meso took off. "Welcome to Minecraft - Block. Block. Block." "Test match, Test match." And, "Look at the board, it's saying T20, man, no Test."
Sheikh offered a caught-and-bowled chance while on nought off ten balls, which was dropped by legspinner Seshnie Naidu, and the next ball saw an appeal for lbw turned down. "She's tired of this, Sesh, she wants to give up, she wants to give up," came the commentary. "Sesh, I told you she's tired, I told you. Just give us your wicket, man, I'm ready."
Scotland were eventually bowled out for 68. Meso took the last catch, on a day where she had the last word, among many others, too.

And another thing...

Also, a shout out to everyone involved with dismissal No. 9, on the fourth ball of the last over, Pakistan vs Rwanda in Potchefstroom.
To Pakistan seamer Zaib-un-Nisa for running out the non-striker backing up too far even though it seemed immaterial to the state of the game.
To Rwanda's Shakila Niyomuhoza for walking off without a fuss.
And to umpire Virender Sharma for giving it out instantly.
No checking with square leg, no review petition before the fielding captain on whether the appeal stands. And somehow everyone still seemed to enjoy themselves for the rest of the afternoon, as if the spirit of the game remained intact.
Raunak Kapoor is part of the commentary team for the ICC Under-19 Women's T20 World Cup in South Africa.

Raunak Kapoor is deputy editor, video, and lead presenter for ESPNcricinfo. @RaunakRK