Match Analysis

New faces give timely boost to India's T20 World Cup prep

Shreyanka Patil and Saika Ishaque both made the most of the chances they were given this series, while youngster Amanjot Kaur also joined in on the fun

Shreyanka Patil was on a hat-trick after dismissing Bess Heath and Freya Kemp  •  BCCI

Shreyanka Patil was on a hat-trick after dismissing Bess Heath and Freya Kemp  •  BCCI

It was only a couple of days ago that India captain Harmanpreet Kaur spoke about keeping faith in the new faces in the team. Opportunities will be given, but their selection for next year's T20 World Cup will also be about the execution, she said.
And the new faces - Shreyanka Patil and Saika Ishaque - have made the most of the chances they've been given by playing a big part in India's only win in the series. Youngster Amanjot Kaur joined in on the fun too, by not only bagging two wickets for 25 runs, but also taking the No.1-ranked T20I bowler Sophie Ecclestone on to seal the win for India in the third T20I on Sunday. Add to that her fielding efforts - she took a superb catch in the series - and you have a well-rounded player that India very much need in the format.
The word roughly translates to 'carefree': that's how Harmanpreet described Ishaque's personality, at a press conference a day after the left-arm spinner made her India debut. Harmanpreet also indicated that's how she was on the field as well, calling her a "character in the team who can bowl in any phase of the innings and get breakthroughs."
On Sunday, Ishaque made an impact as soon as she was handed the ball in the sixth over. After having Alice Capsey caught at extra cover on the very first ball she bowled, she returned in the 12th over and got the prized wicket of Amy Jones, also breaking a crucial stand in the process. She made Jones drag the sweep from outside off to have her caught at deep midwicket. To make things worse for England, Danielle Gibson failed to read Ishaque's arm ball and was bowled the very next delivery trying to cut through the offside. The bindass bit probably came in when she cheekily smiled whenever she conceded boundaries, probably knowing she'd eventually compensate with wickets. After all, she'd once famously quipped, "Bowler hoon, wicket lene aayi hoon" [I'm a bowler. I'm here to take wickets].
"Three wickets are not a joke for me, I've been working really hard."
Shreyanka was elated after her three wickets in four miserly overs. She capped off a dream year by making an impact in the series against England, following her superb WPL and Women's CPL stint. She finished the A series between India and England with five wickets in three games and was then handed a debut in the T20Is.
She took two big wickets of Heather Knight and Jones in the first game and finished as the Player of the Match in the third one on Sunday. An overall disciplined effort, where she bowled stump-to-stump lines and varied her trajectory, gave her three wickets to go with an economy of just 4.75. Those three wickets came in a span of seven deliveries which left England languishing at 78 for 6.
"She is an impact player. After bowling and fielding very well, she came in during chase when we needed 12 runs off 12 balls, the first ball was whipped through the covers by her."
That was India's fielding coach Munish Bali heaping praise on Amanjot. The batting allrounder made her debut earlier this year against South Africa and has played nine T20Is so far, impressing instantly with a 41 not out off 28 in that game.
After bagging two wickets to wrap up England's innings for 126, She made her impact felt at an important point during the match, coming in when India had lost three quick wickets with 11 needing off 12. She broke the pressure with a cover drive and hit two more boundaries off the last two balls of the 19th over to complete the chase in style. Amanjot fits right in to make up for the lack of batting firepower in the lower order, which has been one of the issues for India in T20Is. And the fielding: be it the blinder to dismiss Alice Capsey in the second T20I having come in as a sub, or the neat take at short third to send Bess Heath back in the third, she seems to want to grab every chance she gets to make an impression. A stint in the WPL, where she will also be working closely with captain Harmanpreet and other experienced players, will only help her enhance her skillsets further.
Despite the series loss, a few other positives also emerged for India. After a debacle in the second T20I where misjudgments with the bats cost them, India's two senior batters Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues stepped up against England's spinners on a tricky wicket. Mandhana used her feet well against spinners and targeted the quicker bowlers for boundaries and sixes, while Rodrigues used the sweep to good effect in her 33-ball stay. The loss in the second T20I, where they collapsed for 80, was an eye-opener for the side to focus on their game against spin. The game-time was important too for them to get going, Harmanpreet said at the post-match presentation.
"Wicket was tricky," Harmanpreet said. "Some balls, especially when offspinners were bowling, were turning and some were going straight. So sometimes you think which ball is going to turn and which is going to be straight. As a batting group, we just wanted to pick the bowlers, which ones we want to take charge. The left-right combination [of Rodrigues and Mandhana] also played a big role for us."
Another big boost has been the return of Renuka Singh, whose crucial wickets in the powerplay has given India a headstart in all three matches so far. India might not have got the result they wanted in the series, but the positives will give them a push forward in their prep for the 2024 T20 World Cup.

Sruthi Ravindranath is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo