Renuka Singh, Meghna Singh, Yastika Bhatia break into India’s World Cup squad




Jemimah Rodrigues and Shikha Pandey have been pushed out

Experienced fast bowler Shikha Pandey has been left out of India’s squad for the upcoming Women’s World Cup in New Zealand in March. The 32-year-old last played an ODI in July. She was also part of the Australia tour that followed in September, but the emergence of Meghna Singh and Renuka Singh appears to have pushed the senior player out of contention. Similarly, 21-year-old Yastika Bhatia made such a strong impression Down Under that she has effectively replaced Jemimah Rodrigues in the team.
India’s fast bowling was a massive talking point when they visited Australia last year. They excelled in the only Test of that tour to the point that Alyssa Healy conceded that they “showed us what we couldn’t quite do with the new ball“. Meghna Singh was a key component in that attack. She opened the bowling with Jhulan Goswami – a combination that might be on show again when India open their World Cup campaign against Pakistan on March 6 – and picked up 2 for 56 from 19 overs. Her ability to swing the ball away from right-handers was particularly eye-catching.
Renuka Singh has never played one-day internationals before but her work in combination with Goswami, Meghna and Pooja Vastrakar during the T20Is against the world champions last year came in for strong praise. “It was amazing to watch our bowlers dominate the Australian batters, so for me that was the biggest positive,” Smriti Mandhana said.
Yastika was the batting highlight to come out of that tour. The left-hander made a half-century in only her third appearance in ODIs and her strokeplay against some of the best bowlers in the world appears to have convinced the selectors to persist with her. Rodrigues lost her place in the ODI side after a poor run in England in July, and while her stellar performance in the Hundred – where she finished as the second-highest run-getter in the competition – helped her make comeback in the shortest format, it wasn’t enough to book a place at the World Cup.
Richa Ghosh continues to keep the gloves for India, with Taniya Bhatia as back-up. Ghosh earned her stripes in Australia as well and her ability to score quickly fits in well with a team that is trying to improve in that regard.

Punam Raut, who was part of the ODI squads for the England and Australia tours last year and a member of the team that finished runners-up in the previous edition of the World Cup, has also been left out.

All 15 players picked in the squad, including the standbys Ekta Bisht and Sabbhineni Meghana, and the likes of Pandey, Rodrigues and Raut, were part of the 20-player group that took part in a boot camp in Dehradun last month.

ESPNcricinfo understands the multi-day camp, proposed by and held under the supervision of head coach Ramesh Powar, was primarily aimed at team-building, rather than skills training. The players, it is learnt, participated in several tasks devised to cultivate better understanding of each other as well as to respond better as individuals, as a team and under pressure situations.

India will get an up-close-and-personal look at the conditions that they might see at the World Cup when they take on the hosts New Zealand in a five-match ODI series starting February 11. The same 15 players will take part in that series, which also includes a standalone T20I.

India Women’s squad for one-off T20I: Harmanpreet Kaur (Capt), Smriti Mandhana (vice-capt), Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia, Deepti Sharma, Richa Ghosh (wicketkeeper), Sneh Rana, Pooja Vastrakar, Meghna Singh, Renuka Singh, Taniya Bhatia (wicketkeeper), Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Ekta Bisht, S Meghna, Simran Dil Bahadur.


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