Asha, Sajana earn maiden call-ups for Bangladesh series

India
S Sajana and S Asha have earned maiden India call-ups for the five-match T20I series in Bangladesh later this month, while Jemimah Rodrigues misses out due to a niggle.

Rodrigues is understood to have a back niggle for which she’s currently being treated at the NCA in Bengaluru. The move to rest her from the Bangladesh tour is precautionary keeping in mind the upcoming T20 World Cup.

Hemalatha, 29, last featured in a T20I in September 2022, while Radha, 23, will be making a comeback for the first time since last year’s T20 World Cup in South Africa in February-March.

The composition of the squad is in line with captain Harmanpreet Kaur’s pre-WPL commitment to trying to ensure opportunities for the top performers with the T20 World Cup in mind. The global tournament is set to be played in September-October this year in Bangladesh.
Sajana was one of Mumbai’s breakout stars this season. Although her numbers read 87 runs in six innings, her big-hitting ability in the back-end of an innings was a point of difference, as she announced herself with a stunning last-ball six to win Mumbai the WPL opener against Delhi Capitals.

Asha, meanwhile, became the first Indian to pick up a five-for in the WPL. In all, she was the second-highest wicket-taker (12 scalps) in the competition as RCB turned around a dismal first season with a championship-winning run this year.

Like Asha, Radha also forced herself back on the back of an impressive showing for runners-up Delhi Capitals, picking ten wickets in nine games at an economy rate of 7.48.

Allrounders Minnu Mani and Kanika Ahuja along with left-arm spinner Mannat Kashyap miss out from the squad that was picked for the home T20Is against Australia in January this year. Ahuja is understood to still be recuperating from an injury that forced her out of WPL 2024.

Given the tour will likely be played on slow turners, the squad is predominantly spin-heavy. Deepti Sharma will lead the spin attack with Shreyanka Patil, the highest wicket-taker in WPL 2024, Saika Ishaque, Asha and Radha all having presented compelling cases to be part of the first XI.

Renuka Singh Thakur and Titas Sadhu are the two frontline pacers with Pooja Vastrakar and Amanjot Kaur as the seam-bowling allrounders. Richa Ghosh is expected to be the first-choice wicketkeeper, while Yastika Bhatia, who has presented a case to be considered as a pure batter, is likely to be a back-up.

This will be India’s second tour to Bangladesh in the last eight months, starting on April 28. India won the T20I series 2-1 in July in what was a low-scoring series with India’s 118 in the opening game being the highest total across the six innings in the series.

India’s T20I squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (capt), Smriti Mandhana (vice-captain), Shafali Verma, D Hemalatha, Sajana Sajeevan, Richa Ghosh (wk), Yastika Bhatia (wk), Radha Yadav, Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Amanjot Kaur, Shreyanka Patil, Saika Ishaque, S Asha, Renuka Singh Thakur, Titas Sadhu.

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