'Many felt Poonam might have had slight edge. Must have been a shocker': Veda Krishnamurthy on IND's CWG squad selection
Senior India cricketer Veda Krishnamurthy feels that while Poonam's selection in the stand-by list was a "shocker", she explained the logic behind the move. Veda also defended Tanya Bhatia's surprising selection as one of the wicketkeepers over Richa Ghosh.
Not long ago Poonam Yadav was one of India's match-winners. Picking 10 wickets in five innings en route to India's road to the 2020 T20 World Cup final, Poonam was the only bowler from the side to feature in the Team of the Tournament. But since then, she has appeared in just five more T2OI matches for India, her last being in February 2022 against New Zealand. She was part of the recently-concluded Sri Lanka tour, but did not get a single game. Shortly later, the 30-year-old off-spinner was demoted to the standby-list as the BCCI named a 15-member squad for the impending Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham. Senior India cricketer Veda Krishnamurthy feels that while Poonam's selection in the stand-by list was a "shocker", she explained the logic behind the move.
This is only the second time cricket is being featured as only of the sports at a CWG edition. Back in 1998, it had staged the men's tournament, in the 50-over format, where South Africa had defeated Australia by 4 wickets in the final. 24 years hence, cricket returns to CWG, but in the T20I format and this time staging a women's tournament.
Eight teams will be part of the competition, clubbed into two groups each of four teams. India find themselves in Group A alongside present World T20 champions Australia, arch-rivals Pakistan and Barbados. India will begin their campaign against Australia on July 29 before taking on Pakistan on July 31 and Barbados on August 3. The top-two teams from each groups will make the semis and CWG 2022 will also hold a bronze-medal match.
Speaking to select media arranged by Sony network, Veda admitted that many had expected Poonam to be part of the final-15, but explained that India backed the likes of spinners in Radhav Yadav, Harleen Deol and Sneh Rana to owing to their ability to provide the line-up with a batting depth.
“With Poonam Yadav, she is a fighter. I'm sure she will be putting in a lot of work hours behind her bowling. This must have come as a surprise to her as she must have not expected. Must have been a shocker. Lot of people felt that Poonam might have had a slight edge over a few people. But in the last few years, due to Covid, a squad of 20 have travelled so everyone was in the mix. But the minute you cut it down to 15 it gets really tight. Everyone is good enough to be in the XI but it is all about the combination that India wanted. They have Harleen in whom they are investing a lot as an all-rounder. I think they kind of have a strategy in mind and are backing that. They also need someone who can bowl and bat down the order to make that difference. That slight edge Radha Yadav and Harleen gets,” she said in response to a query from Hindustan Times.
Tanya Bhatia over Richa Ghosh?
In another surprise move, Tanya Bhatia, who last played a T20I game for India in 2020 World Cup final, was backed as one of the wicketkeepers alongside Yastika Bhatia, hence leaving out Richa Ghosh. The 18-year-old played an impressive series against New Zealand earlier this year before being picked as the primary wicketkeeper for India in the ODI World Cup. But since then, Ghosh's struggle with the bat began which continued in the Women's T20 Challenge as well. And after a failure in the opening game of the Sri Lanka tour, she was dropped and Yastika took over keeping duties.
Defending Tanya's selection, Veda recalled her crucial 36-ball knock of 33 runs for Supernovas during the Women's T20 Challenge match against Velocity, which also included an 82-run stand alongside Harmanpreet Kaur before admitting that Yastika's promotion as the preferred keeper in the Sri Lanka series was always going to be tough for Ghosh.
“The selection, I feel, would have been on the basis of the fact that Tanya has not got to play in the XI for a really long time. She has been with the team but hasn't got enough opportunities. On the other hand, Richa Ghosh has played in the XI for quite a bit and she did play well in New Zealand for a couple of games but after that she has not been able to do well. And, Yastika's promotion as a wicketkeeper is being seen as a direct competition with Richa Ghosh,” she explained.
“If you haven't played anyone in the XI then you can't really just drop them saying that they haven't performed. You have to go with the performance. And if you have been with the team and have not got enough opportunities then I think that is kind of titled in Tanya's favour. And she did well in the women's T20 challenger as well which also makes a lot of difference. Tanya is also slightly better keeper and then when you look at batting, Richa is more an aggressor while Tanya is more of who nudges around and gets runs. But in crucial times, one of the games where they were down by 3 or 4 wickets in the Women's T20 Challenge, she had that wonderful partnership with Harmanpreet which might have given her the edge. Maybe we can give her enough opportunities before deciding who we pick.”
[Watch the LIVE coverage of Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games on SONY SIX, SONY TEN 1, SONY TEN 2, SONY TEN 4 (English) & SONY TEN 3 (Hindi) channels starting from 28th July 2022 at 11:30 pm IST.]