Benoni (South Africa), Jan 13 (SocialNews.XYZ) After 14 editions of Men's U-19 World Cup, January 14, 2023 will finally see a Women's U19 World Cup come into existence albeit in the T20 format, giving a chance to the future stars of women's cricket to shine on a global platform.
The 16-team event, comprising 41 matches played across four venues in Benoni and Potchefstroom, was supposed to be held in 2021. But the event was pushed back to 2023 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and now, as time stands, the U19 Women's T20 World Cup is finally turning into reality.
From four teams in Groups A, B, C, and D, top three teams from each group will progress to the Super Six round, where teams will be pooled into two groups of six - 1 and 2.
The top two teams from each group will then progress to the semi-finals, which will be played on January 27 at JB Marks Oval in Potchefstroom. The final will take place at the same venue on January 29.
For India, it is a chance for Shafali Verma & Co to announce themselves on the biggest global stage for young female cricketers. Co-incidentally, India's first appearance in the final of a Women's World Cup came in South Africa 18 years ago in the 2005 ODI World Cup final.
There are strong reasons behind India being seen as favourites to lift the inaugural U19 Women's T20 World Cup trophy. In the lead-up to the tournament, the inter-state Under-19 T20 Trophy and four-team U-19 Challengers Trophy were held by the BCCI.
Then, India U19 A won the quadrangular series in Visakhapatnam that also featured an India U19 B team, West Indies and Sri Lanka U19 teams in November 2022. From there, India U19 team registered a 5-0 clean clean-sweep over New Zealand Development team in Mumbai in early December.
With Shafali and Richa Ghosh, two teenagers who are regulars in senior women's team, added to the squad, the India U19 got to register a 4-0 thumping victory over tournament hosts South Africa in a five-match T20 contest earlier in January 2023.
In the first official warmup match, they got the better of Australia in a low-scoring clash, before surprisingly losing to Bangladesh by three runs. But India can hope to churn out performances in the tournament where they are placed in Group D alongside South Africa, their opponents for Saturday's game at Willowmoore Park, followed by UAE, and Scotland.
Apart from Shafali and Richa, who have made heads turn with their scintillating performances at the senior level, one can expect great performances from batters Shweta Sehrawat and Soumya Tiwari, all-rounders G Trisha, Hurley Gala, and Sonia Mehdiya, as well as wicketkeeper-batter Hrishita Basu.
In the bowling department, one can expect wonders from off-spinner Archana Devi, leg-spinner Parshavi Chopra, left-arm spinners Sonam Yadav and Mannat Kashyap and right-arm pacers Shabnam MD, Falak Naz and Titas Sadhu.
India also have a highly-experienced coach in former India spinner Nooshin Al Khadeer, who has created an illustrious resume with two trophy-securing victories for Railways in domestic cricket season 2021/22 and taking Supernovas to winning Women's T20 Challenge 2022.
Overall, India looks like a well-rounded unit and have a very promising pool of players in their squad. They look very strong and one wouldn't be surprised if they win the first global women's cricket trophy by an Indian team.
India Squad: Shafali Verma (Captain), Shweta Sehrawat (Vice-Captain), Richa Ghosh (WK), G Trisha, Soumya Tiwari, Sonia Mehdiya, Hurley Gala, Hrishita Basu (WK), Sonam Yadav, Mannat Kashyap, Archana Devi, Parshavi Chopra, Titas Sadhu, Falak Naz, Shabnam MD.
Standby players: Shikha, Najla CMC, Yashashree.