A Kerala tribal girl's rise from rubble, a keeper from the east: 4 new players for India vs Bangladesh
The first national team player from Kerala and the second from Assam could be in India's XI on the tour of Bangladesh.
The Indian women's cricket team returns after their disappointing semifinal loss in the Women's T20 World Cup when the begin their tour of Bangladesh on Sunday.
The Indian team will play three ODIs and as many T20Is in their first international appearance since the 2023 T20 World Cup defeat to Australia. The tour will commence on July 9 with the first T20I and will conclude on July 22 with the third ODI. All the matches will be held at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.
The squad for the tour features some surprising inclusions and exclusions, with several talented players joining the team. Let's take a closer look at the new additions to the Indian team.
Richa Ghosh, Shikha Pandey and spinners Radha Yadav and Rajeshwari Gayakwad are among the notable exclusions. Additionally, Renuka Singh Thakur, who is still recovering from an injury, has been ruled out.
Meanwhile, pacer Monica Patel and opening batter Priya Punia have returned to the team.
1. Uma Chetry - Wicketkeeper-batter from Assam
Uma Chetry's journey to the Indian women's cricket team is nothing short of inspiring. Hailing from a humble background in Assam, this 20-year-old wicketkeeper has overcome numerous obstacles to realize her dreams on the cricket field. Her inclusion in the team not only showcases her talent but also represents a triumph for her family and the entire state of Assam.
As the youngest of five siblings and the only daughter in her family, Chetry grew up in a household of hardworking daily wagers and farmers. Despite the financial challenges, her passion for cricket burned brightly from a young age. She attended Bokakhat High School, which happened to be located near the renowned Bokakhat stadium. It was here that Chetry would play alongside her male schoolmates, honing her skills and catching the attention of those around her.
A pivotal moment in her journey came when Ajoy Sharma, the treasurer of the Golaghat District Sports Association, noticed her exceptional talent. Recognizing her potential, Sharma became a guiding force in her cricketing aspirations, providing the necessary support and encouragement to pursue the sport professionally. His belief in her abilities propelled her forward and gave her the confidence to face any challenge that came her way.
Uma Chetry's career began to flourish when she made her debut for the Assam U19 team during the 2015/16 season. Her impressive performances soon earned her a place in the T20 senior team, followed by her List A debut in the 2016/17 season. In recent seasons, she has consistently showcased her batting prowess, amassing 225 runs in the last ten T20 matches for Assam. While she typically occupies the middle order, her versatility was on full display during the recent Emerging Asia Cup, where she opened the innings and contributed a valuable 22 runs in the finals.
Selected as the second wicketkeeper for the team, Uma Chetry brings both skill and depth to the batting lineup. Her ability to adapt to different situations and contribute crucial runs in the middle order makes her a valuable asset, particularly in the ODIs.
Uma is just the second player from Assam to represent India's women's team. The first had been Ritu Dhrub, who had made her debut also in a series against Bangladesh, which also featured another famous debutant in Smriti Mandhana.
2. Rashi Kanojiya - Spinner from UP
Rashi Kanojiya, 25, a talented spinner from Agra who was a net bowler for RCB in the recent Women's Premier League, is another exciting addition to the Indian women's cricket team. She draws inspiration from Neetu David, one of the all-time legends of Indian women's cricket.
Kanojiya, who has two elder brothers, comes from an army background. Her mother is a teacher, while her father, now retired, served in the Indian army. Kanojiya's cricket journey began at the age of 8 when she joined the Eklavya Cricket Academy as a fast bowler. However, she later transitioned to spin and continued her training at Manya Cricket Academy.
In the 2013/14 season, Kanojiya made her U19 debut for Uttar Pradesh and played a key role as the team reached consecutive finals in the One-day competition. She made her senior debut for Uttar Pradesh in 2017 and subsequently represented India A during the Bangladesh tour and the Emerging Women's Asia Cup in 2019. Kanojiya's skills were further recognized when she was selected for the 30-member Indian team during the conditioning camp ahead of the Australia home series.
Kanojiya emerged as the joint leading wicket-taker (with Anjali Sarvani) in the last Inter-Zonal T20 Trophy, claiming ten wickets. Her arm ball is a notable weapon in her arsenal and is expected to make an impact in the Bangladesh series.
3. Anusha Bareddy - All-rounder from Andhra Pradesh
Anusha Bareddy, 20, hailing from Bandlapalli in Narpala Mandal of Anantapur, is an all-rounder who brings versatility to the team. Born into a family of small-time farmers, Bareddy developed an interest in cricket at a young age but only pursued the game professionally in 2014. She initially participated in tournaments organized by the Rural Development Trust (RDT) and later joined the Anantapur RDT Academy.
Bareddy began as a pace bowler but later transitioned to spin after joining the academy. She made her mark by earning a place in the U16 and U19 Andhra teams in 2016. Notably, she was part of the victorious Andhra U19 one-day team in the 2017/18 season. Her consistent performances earned her a spot in the U19 NCA camp in 2019. Bareddy made her senior debut in 2020 and was a member of the India A team that won the Emerging Asia Cup.
Apart from her spin bowling prowess, Bareddy possesses batting skills that allow her to contribute valuable runs at the end of an innings. In practice selection matches organized by the Andhra Cricket Association in 2022, she demonstrated her ability by scoring an impressive 74 runs opening the innings for Team A.
4. Minnu Mani - All-rounder from Kerala
Minnu Mani, 24, an exceptionally talented all-rounder from the Kurichiya tribe in Wayanad, represents one of the notable inclusions in the Indian women's cricket team. Born to a daily wage laborer father and a homemaker mother, Mani discovered her passion for cricket through her physical education teacher, Elsamma. She joined the Wayanad District Association and began her cricket journey by representing the U13 and later the Kerala U16 teams.
Despite her young age, Mani made her debut for the senior Kerala state team at 16. In 2018, her house was destroyed due to landslides in Kerala, but she remained determined and focused on her cricketing aspirations. Her efforts paid off when she emerged as the leading run-scorer for Kerala in the 2018 U23 T20 trophy, contributing 188 runs in 7 innings as Kerala U-23 clinched the title by defeating Maharashtra in the final.
Mani's performances earned her a place in the India A team for the tour to Bangladesh in 2019, and she has since been a part of various conditioning camps at the National Cricket Academy (NCA). She played a crucial role in Kerala's victory over Railways in the 2022/23 One-Day competition with an unbeaten 85. Additionally, she represented the Delhi Capitals in the inaugural Women's Premier League.
As a left-handed batter, Mani provides flexibility in the lineup and is also a skillful bowler, making her a valuable asset to the team.
India women's T20I squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Yastika Bhatia(wk), Deepti Sharma, Harleen Deol, Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Amanjot Kaur, Sabbineni Meghana, Pooja Vastrakar, Meghna Singh, Anjali Sarvani, Monica Patel, Rashi Kanojiya, Anusha Bareddy, Minnu Mani, Devika Vaidya, Uma Chetry (wk).
India women's ODI squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Deepti Sharma, Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Harleen Deol, Amanjot Kaur, Priya Punia, Pooja Vastrakar, Meghna Singh, Anjali Sarvani, Monica Patel, Rashi Kanojiya, Anusha Bareddy, Sneh Rana, Devika Vaidya, Uma Chetry (wk).
The India vs Bangalesh series is an opportunity for new talents to shine on the international stage. The likes of Uma Chetry, Rashi Kanojiya, Anusha Bareddy, and Minnu Mani will bring fresh energy and diverse skills to the team.