Harmanpreet Kaur ‘not afraid to give chances to newcomers’

India women’s T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur is all for experimenting with the side by giving chances to youngsters in the ongoing tri-series against England and Australia, in order to get the “best combination” ready for the upcoming T20 World Cup, starting February 21.

“We went out to Australia earlier than a lot of teams and are in the midst of a tri-series with England and Australia, which will be a perfect platform for us,” she wrote in her column for the ICC. “We’ll also be able to experiment with selection and we’ll look to find our best combination during that series. One thing is for sure – we won’t be afraid to give chances to newcomers.”

While 16-year old batter Richa Ghosh was rewarded for her good run in the Women’s Challenger Trophy by earning a call-up for the tri-series as well as the T20 World Cup, Shafali Verma, the 15-year old opener who has been impressive for India since her debut last year, will also be playing her first big tournament.

“We have brought Richa Ghosh into our squad recently on the back of her great performances in the Women’s Senior T20 Challenger Trophy. We have to find out what our best team is and those games will give us a chance to decide that before the World Cup,” Kaur wrote.

India, who have won just one out of the three games so far in the tri-series, will be facing hosts Australia on Saturday, where a loss will put them out of contention for the final. They’re yet to find a solution for their long-standing middle-order issues, which has affected them in this series as well. They’ve been impacted by the form of Veda Krishnamurthy and Taniya Bhatia, who average 18.75 (10 innings) and 6.66 (eight innings) in T20Is respectively since last year. Even in the ongoing series, they’ve made just 17 and 19 runs respectively in three games.

Following the tri-series, India would be playing the warm-ups ahead of the big tournament, and with middle-order options in Harleen Deol and Ghosh, India could make some changes in the line-up.

“If I look back two years, India’s 50-over side was doing well and our T20 was struggling. But in the past two years, we have transformed as a T20 team and are very positive going to Australia. We haven’t always managed to deliver on our potential as a team and winning games is always about how well you’re able to execute your skills.”

While Kaur has been a lynchpin for India in the ODIs with her big-match temperament, she has not shone through as much in T20Is, registering only three 40-plus scores in her last 17 innings. She smashed her career-best 103 in the format in November 2018 after which her form has not been as impressive, but she hopes to “step up” soon and win some games for her team.

“Each and every member of the squad has a part to play and we need to give our all to win any game,” she said. “I’m just hoping I can step up and win some games for my team when they need me.”