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Under-19 Women’s Twent20 World Cup:16 teams, 4 groups, 2 places



Under-19 women's T20 WC

On January 14, the first Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup will start with 16 teams. There will be four groups of teams. The top three teams from each group move on to the “Super Six,” where the teams are split into two groups of three. Group 1 will have the teams from Groups A and D, and Group 2 will have the teams from Groups B and C.

The top two teams from each group will then move on to the semi-finals, which will both be played on January 27 in Potchefstroom. The final will be held at the same place on January 29. All of the games will take place in both Benoni and Potchefstroom, which each have two places where games can be played. Both the semi-finals and the finals have a backup day.

Here are some quick facts about the 16 teams that will be there:



Captain: Rhys McKenna

Coach: Sarah Aley with Erin Osborne and Dulip Samaraweera as assistant coaches

Key players: Ella Hayward, Amy Smith

A lot of the team members have played in the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) and the Women’s National Cricket League. In the WBBL, all-rounder Jade Allen spins with her legs, Hayward spins with her offspin, Smith spins with her legs, and McKenna bowls fast for Sydney Sixers, Melbourne Renegades, Hobart Hurricanes, and Melbourne Stars. Hayward was also the Victoria Metro player with the most runs in the Under-19 Female National Championships. In WBBL 08, Brisbane Heat’s Lucy Hamilton, who bowls with her left hand, made her first appearance.

Squad: Rhys McKenna (capt), Chloe Ainsworth, Jade Allen, Charis Bekker, Paris Bowdler, Maggie Clark, Sianna Ginger, Lucy Hamilton, Ella Hayward, Milly Illingworth, Eleanor Larosa, Claire Moore, Kate Pelle, Amy Smith, Ella Wilson.


Captain: Disha Biswas

Coach: Dipu Roy Chowdhury

Key players: Marufa Akter, Disha Biswas

Marufa, Dilara Akter, and Rabeya Khan have all played international sports for Bangladesh. Biswas was called up for the first time when the senior team went to New Zealand at the end of last year. She was the captain of the Under-19 team. Also getting a lot of attention is fast bowler Marufa.

Squad: Disha Biswas (capt), Shorna Akter, Rabeya Khan, Marufa Akter, Dilara Akter, Misty Rany Saha, Reya Akter Shika, Sumaiya Akter, Afia Humaira Anam Prottasha, Mst Unnoti Akter, Mst Dipa Khatun, Leky Chakma, Asrafi Yeasmin Arthy, Jannatul Maoua, Mst Eva.

Vishmi Gunaratne
Vishmi Gunaratne, the captain of Sri Lanka, is a player to keep an eye on.

Sri Lanka

Captain: Vishmi Gunaratne

Coach: Shashikala Siriwardene

Key player: Vishmi Gunaratne, Dewmi Vihanga

The only player on the team with a cap is Gunaratne. She is known for her strokeplay. Her best T20I score was a steady 45 against India in June. The Female Under-19 Youth League was held in September of last year, and most of the players took part. Six groups competed.

Squad: Vishmi Gunaratne (capt), Dahami Sanethma, Umaya Rathnayake, Rashmi Nethranjalee, Rashmika Sewwandi, Dewmi Vihanga, Manudi Nanayakkara, Sumudu Nisansala, Pamoda Shaini, Vidushika Perera, Dulanga Dissanayake, Rishmi Sanjana, Nethmi Senarathne, Harini Perera, Vihara Sewwandi.

United States of America

Captain: Geetika Kodali

Coach: Shivnarine Chanderpaul

Key players: Geetika Kodali, Isani Vaghela

Eleven of the 15 people on the team have played cricket internationally before. Most of them were on the USA team that came in eighth place at the Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier in September 2022. Kodali, Vaghela, and Snigdha Paul have also played in T20 leagues with players who are well-known. Last September, all three of them took part in the first Women’s Caribbean Premier League (WCPL). Last May, Kodali also took part in the Fairbreak Invitational T20 tournament.

Squad: Geetika Kodali (capt), Anika Kolan, Aditi Chudasama, Bhumika Bhadriraju, Disha Dhingra, Isani Vaghela, Jivana Aras, Laasya Mullapudi, Pooja Ganesh, Pooja Shah, Ritu Singh, Sai Tanmayi Eyyunni, Snigdha Paul, Suhani Thadani, Taranum Chopra.



Captain: Grace Scrivens

Coach: Chris Guest with former offspinner Laura Marsh and Darren Franklin as assistants

Key players: Grace Scrivens, Ryana MacDonald-Gay, Sophia Smale

Even though Freya Kemp and Alice Capsey are hurt and can’t play, England still has players who have played in The Hundred before. MacDonald-Gay and Smale’s team, Oval Invincibles, won in 2022. With their teams Welsh Fire and London Spirit, Hannah Baker and Scrivens won. MacDonald-Gay also took six wickets in a warm-up T20 game last September against the senior Indian team that was touring.

Squad: Grace Scrivens (capt) Ellie Anderson, Hannah Baker, Josie Groves, Liberty Heap, Niamh Holland, Ryana MacDonald-Gay, Emma Marlow, Charis Pavely, Davina Perrin, Lizzie Scott, Sophia Smale, Seren Smale, Alexa Stonehouse, Maddie Ward.


Captain: Syeda Aroob Shah

Coach: Mohsin Kamal

Key players: Shawal Zulfiqar, Syeda Aroob Shah

Pakistan didn’t choose Ayesha Naseem, who has a lot of power, but they did put together a strong team led by Aroob. Zulfiqar got the most runs in the Women’s Under-19 T20 Tournament, which took place in August 2022. In five games, she had a strike rate of 137.60 and scored 172 runs. Aroob was first in bowling with nine wickets in five games and third in run scoring with 160 runs in five innings for a strike rate of 179.78.

Squad: Syeda Aroob Shah (capt), Aliza Khan, Anosha Nasir, Areesha Noor, Eyman Fatima, Haleema Azeem Dar, Haniah Ahmer, Laiba Nasir, Mahnoor Aftab, Quratulain Ahsen, Rida Aslam, Shawal Zulfiqar, Warda Yousaf, Zaib-un-Nisa, Zamina Tahir


Captain: Gisele Ishimwe

Coach: Leonard Nhamburo

Key players: Gisele Ishimwe, Henriette Ishimwe

Rwanda has played in 44 T20Is, and Henriette and Gisele have each played in 44 of them. With their experience from the Under-19 circuit, they helped the Rwanda Under-19 Women win the Africa Qualifiers and make it to the first T20 World Cup. Belyse Murekatete, who is not part of the pair, has also played cricket at an international level. Henriette was also on the Barmy Army team at the Fairbreak Invitational T20 Tournament. Heather Knight was in charge of this group.

Squad: Gisele Ishimwe (capt), Merveille Uwase, Henriette Isimbi, Marie Jose Tumukunde, Giovannis Uwase, Sharila Niyomuhoza, Sylvia Usabyimana, Henriette Ishimwe, Divine Gihozo Ishimwe, Belyse Murekatete, Cynthia Uwera, Cesarie Muragajimana, Rosine Uwera, Zurafat Ishimwe.


Captain: Kelis Ndlovu

Coach: Trevor Phiri

Key players: Kelis Ndlovu, Michelle Mavunga

The team spent a month at a camp in Saphale, a far-off suburb of Mumbai, in November 2022. There, they pretended to play games and did so with teams from the area. In September 2022, at the Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier, Zimbabwe’s all-rounder Ndlovu took the most wickets and scored the second-most runs. The only other player on this team with a cap is Mavunga.

Squad: Kelis Ndlovu (capt), Kelly Ndiraya, Kay Ndiraya, Adel Zimunhu, Natasha Mutomba, Vimbai Mutungwindu, Danielle Meikle, Tawananyasha Marumani, Michelle Mavunga, Olinda Chare, Kudzai Chigora, Betty Mangachena, Chipo Moyo, Faith Ndhlalambi, Rukudzo Mwakayeni.



Captain: Amy Hunter

Coach: Glenn Querl

Key players: Amy Hunter, Georgina Dempsey In November 2021, Hunter broke Mithali Raj’s record to become the youngest women to score an ODI century. She also scored a quick 40 in November 2022 to help Ireland beat Pakistan in a T20I. Dempsey is the other player in the squad with experience of international cricket.

Squad: Amy Hunter (capt), Siúin Wood, Zara Craig, Georgina Dempsey, Rebecca Gough, Abbi Harrison, Jennifer Jackson, Joanna Loughran, Niamh MacNulty, Aimee Maguire, Kia McCartney, Ellie McGee, Julie McNally, Freya Sargent, Annabel Squires.


Captain: Ni Luh Dewi

Coach: Nuwan Shiroman

Key players: Ni Kadek Ariani, Ni Luh Dewi, Lie Qiao

Indonesia got into the first Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup by beating PNG 2-1 in the East Asia-Pacific Qualifier. In November, they won a series against Singapore XI by a score of 3-0. Ariani, who bats first, has been their most important bowler, and Dewi has helped in the middle order.

Squad: Ni Luh Dewi (c), Thersiana Penu Weo, Ni Kadek Ariani, Yessny Djahilepang, Sang Ayu Puspita Dewi, Lie Qiao, I Gusti Pratiwi, Ni Kadek Murtiari, Ni Putu Cantika, Ni Kadek Dwi Indriyani, Desi Wulandari, Ni Made Suarniasih, Gusti Ayu Ratna Ulansari, Dewa Ayu Sasrikayoni, Kadek Ayu Kurniartini.

New Zealand

Captain: Izzy Sharp

Coach: Sara McGlashan

Key players: Georgia Plimmer, Fran Jonas, Kayley Knight

Plimmer, Jonas, and Isabella Gaze are all members of the team who have played for their countries before. Knight got the most wickets for the New Zealand Women’s Development team when they played India Under-19 in T20s in Mumbai last year. They had also played against the Under-19 West Indies team, and many of them had played in the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield, which is New Zealand’s best one-day competition for women.

Squad: Izzy Sharp (capt), Olivia Anderson, Anna Browning, Kate Chandler, Natasha Codyre, Isabella Gaze, Antonia Hamilton, Abigail Hotton, Fran Jonas, Louisa Kotkamp, Kayley Knight, Paige Loggenberg, Emma McLeod, Georgia Plimmer, Tash Wakelin.

West Indies

Captain: Ashmini Munisar

Coach: Steve Liburd

Key players: Jannillea Glasgow, Trishan Holder

In Visakhapatnam, the West Indies played a series with the India Under-19 A and B teams and Sri Lanka. After that, they played a couple of games in Navi Mumbai against the New Zealand Women’s Development team. Their worst skill was batting, which was also their weakest point. The only person on the team who has played for her country before is Holder. Last year, at the Commonwealth Games, she played her first Twenty20 International for Barbados. Djenaba Joseph has played four T20Is for the senior team, and Glasgow has been added to the West Indies squad but hasn’t played an international yet.

Squad: Ashmini Munisar (capt), Asabi Callendar, Jahzara Claxton, Naijanni Cumberbatch, Earnisha Fontaine, Jannillea Glasgow, Realanna Grimmond, Trishan Holder, Zaida James, Djenaba Joseph, K D Jazz Mitchell, Shalini Samaroo, Shunelle Sawh, Lena Scott, Abini St Jean.



Captain: Shafali Verma

Coach: Nooshin Al Khadeer

Key players: Soumya Tiwari, Hurley Gala, Shabnam MD apart from Shafali and Richa Ghosh

The rest of the team has a lot of cricket experience, except for Shafali and Ghosh. Between them, they have played in 121 international matches. Last November, they played in the Under-19 Women’s Challenger Trophy, a Quadrangular series with Sri Lanka and the West Indies, a five-match T20 series against the New Zealand Development side, and then five T20s in Pretoria against South Africa.

Squad: Shafali Verma (capt), Shweta Sehrawat, Richa Ghosh, G Trisha, Soumya Tiwari, Sonia Mendhiya, Hurley Gala, Hrishita Basu, Sonam Yadav, Mannat Kashyap, Archana Devi, Parshavi Chopra, Titas Sadhu, Falak Naz, Shabnam MD.

Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh
Together, Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh have played in 121 international games.


Captain: Katherine Fraser

Coach: Peter Ross

Key players: Ailsa Lister, Katherine Fraser

Mark Coles thought Fraser would go on to bigger and better things when he was Scotland’s head coach. Only Lister and Olivia Bell, besides Fraser, have played for their country outside of their home country. At the Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier in September, Scotland came in sixth. Fraser and Lister both had the same number of wickets, and Lister was third on Scotland’s list of run scorers. In an unofficial warm-up game before the Under-19 World Cup, they lost to the United States, but in their first official warm-up game, they got even.

Squad: Katherine Fraser (capt), Ailsa Lister, Molly Barbour-Smith, Olivia Bell, Darcey Carter, Maryam Faisal, Maisie Maceira, Orla Montgomery, Niamh Muir, Molly Paton, Niamh Robertson-Jack, Nayma Sheikh, Anne Sturgess, Emily Tucker, Emma Walsingham.

South Africa

Captain: Oluhle Siyo

Coach: Dinesha Devnarain

Key player: Seshnie Naidu

Cricket This year, Devnarain coached the Under-19 team, which was the fourth team in South Africa’s Women’s Super League T20. Before the T20 World Cup, India beat South Africa’s Under-19 team four times in Pretoria. During the whole series, Naidu’s leg-spin was very good, and he took seven wickets. But everyone will be watching them bat at the T20 World Cup.

Squad: Oluhle Siyo (capt), Elandri Janse Van Rensburg, Simone Lourens, Anica Swart, Karabo Meso, Madison Landsman, Kayla Reyneke, Jenna Evans, Miane Smit, Ayanda Hlubi, Seshnie Naidu, Refilwe Moncho, Mona Lisa Legodi, Nthabiseng Nini, Jemma Botha.

United Arab Emirates

Captain: Theertha Satish

Coach: Najeeb Amar

Key players: Mahika Gaur, Theertha Satish, Vaishnave Mahesh

Six of the women on the team played in the Women’s Asia Cup last year. Theertha had the third-most runs in all women’s T20Is in 2022, and Vaishnave was tied for third with 29 wickets in all women’s T20Is.

Squad: Theertha Satish (capt), Vaishnave Mahesh, Samaira Dharnidharka, Lavanya Keny, Sanchin Singh, Rinitha Rajith, Indhuja Nandakumar, Siya Gokhale, Mahika Gaur, Avanee Sunil Patil, Archara Supriya, Rishitha Rajith, Geethika Jyothis, Sanjana Ramesh, Ishitha Zehra.


De Zorzi now has a chance to become the star he has always wanted to be.




De Zorzi

Tony de Zorzi returned to the Wanderers eight years after he was captain of King Edwards VII, one of Johannesburg’s best schools, and seven years after he led South Africa’s Under-19 team to a World Cup where they were the defending champions but finished in 11th place. He found friends he didn’t know he had.

There were a few of my friends here, and it’s always nice to have my mum watching,” de Zorzi said. “Some people said they were my friends, but I’ve never met them.”

Natasha raised de Zorzi on her own, and he has always wanted to be the best he could be for her. She doesn’t watch him play much anymore because he took the long way to become an international cricket player. He went to the same school as Neil McKenzie and Graeme Smith, then to Pretoria, and finally to Cape Town, which is 1400 kilometres away from where he grew up. In a way, it was good for de Zorzi to play his first Test match on the Highveld and get his first fifty while Natasha was watching.

He said, “She always sits in the same spot, so I knew where she was.” “Since I’m in Cape Town, she hasn’t been able to watch many games. I hope I can get three figures the next time she comes.”

De Zorzi has set high goals for himself. In the last two years, only one of his teammates has scored a hundred at home, and only two others (Sarel Erwee and Kyle Verreynne, neither of whom is playing in this series) have reached 100. But because he has let people down in the past, he knows this is his chance to step up.

“My life has changed a lot since I played for SA under-19,” de Zorzi said. “I was captain, but I wasn’t the star of that side,” he said.

Because Wiaan Mulder did it. When De Zorzi came back from the World Cup for his age group, he had to go back to club cricket and “start over.” He played for the University of Pretoria team, which was led by Kruger van Wyk, who is now the fielding coach. Then he got a job with Northerns, where he kept getting better and better and averaged almost 80 for the second-tier provincial team in the summer of 2016–17. In the summer of 2020, he moved to Western Province, where Ashwell Prince was the head coach. Since then, he has been made captain.

This summer, he is averaging over 100, mostly because of his unbeaten 304 against the Knights, when Gerald Coetzee was part of his attack (though admittedly not many other big names).

“It’s been a long process, and I’m glad it’s come to this,” said de Zorzi. “It also reminds me of where I came from and to not get too far ahead of myself because I had to do a lot of dirty work to get there. Some guys start getting it a little bit earlier. Mine is starting to come true right now.”

After averaging over 48 in three of the last four seasons, de Zorzi was hard to ignore in this Test squad, but it took a change in leadership for that to happen. He got his chance because the new red-ball coach, Shukri Conrad, also acts as a selector when there isn’t a panel. “We knew it would be a new start when the coaches changed,” de Zorzi said. “If everyone took a chance and did well, you knew there would be a new set of eyes and maybe even more chances. That was a lot of fun. Dean Elgar, who was captain at the time, used to say that the number of runs you scored would get you into the team. Guys knew that they had to have a good season if they wanted to move up. There was nothing else to do.”

De Zorzi
De Zorzi is especially good at the cut shot, which is how he scored almost a third of his runs in this innings.

But now that it has, players like de Zorzi need to take control of their space. He showed West Indies’ attack what he was made of in the first Test, and Kyle Mayers saw it. “This guy seems to have everything together,” he said. “He is square of the wicket and strong.”

De Zorzi is very good at the cut shot. In this innings, he got almost a third of his runs with the cut shot. However, the West Indies had already figured him out from the first Test. At the SuperSport Park, they tried to give him less space. De Zorzi said, “They stick to the basics a little bit longer.” “You might get a few less bad balls, but international cricketers who do their homework are going to do it. I could tell they had different plans based on how they bowled to me today compared to how they did it at SuperSport Park. They can make it harder for you to score. And, of course, the intensity is a little bit higher. When I got out, I was really tired. It is not easy.”

But so was de Zorzi. During the free-flowing afternoon session in South Africa, he played well. Natasha sat still in the Memorial Stand the whole time. De Zorzi made his first sign to her when he hit Alzarri Joseph out of the ground with the 82nd ball he faced. She would have been incredibly proud, no doubt. As the pitch got faster and West Indies made a comeback, De Zorzi faced 73 more balls and scored 35 more runs.

They lost five wickets for 64 runs after tea, so the game is now tied. If South Africa can’t score more than 350, West Indies might be able to fight back. If you give up on that, on a pitch that is already starting to turn, the game might be over. Either way, it’s set up to bring in people who didn’t know they liked cricket, especially during a mid-week Test match when only a small part of the stadium is filled. But it’s important. And de Zorzi knows that better than anyone else.

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The collapse that never came at Hagley Oval involving Sri Lanka




Angelo Mathews

The skies are gray and heavy, like a wet blanket that will soon be thrown over the whole series. The field is so full of plants that animals that live in the woods have moved in. The outfield is wet, and sometimes a cold drizzle falls on biting winds. And while the local bowlers, who are all big and tall, are nimble and strong in their warm-up overs on the practice pitches, the Sri Lankan batters, who are covered in wool sweaters, face throwdowns and look like they are about to be sacrificed on an altar of seam bowling.

Get the coin. Put Sri Lanka in. Watch the ball jump gleefully off the edges of the bats and into the hands of the slip cordon as batter after batter falls like marionettes, the scoreboard showing 45-3, then 67-5, and a few swipes at the end pushing the total just over 100. Here are the usual parts of Sri Lanka’s day one story on a ground like Hagley Oval.

When they were here before, they didn’t have to bat first, but they were still out after 138 runs. The last time, they had players like Kumar Sangakkara on their team, but they still lost by 104 runs. Unless Sri Lanka pulls off a near-miracle in the second innings, which they do from time to time, these are game-changing messes. (Then New Zealand will go up to bat and put on half a million for six while smiling politely, which will only show how bad they were before.)

Then this happened. Four years after the last time they played a Test in New Zealand, where they were beaten by 423 runs at this same site, they had an amazing day of batting. Of defensive play that was mostly okay and technique that was pretty good. Had Sri Lanka’s batters done the work to figure out where their off stump was before they started a Test on foreign soil? Any Sri Lanka fan should feel a tear of pure pride just thinking about it.

Kusal Mendis, who may have been the best player in the XI, took the lead. The most important part of his 87 out of 83 was how he judged length on a surface that was a bit bumpy. When it was on a good length, he defended close to his body, almost always with soft hands, so that when the ball came in and took the edge, it bounced short of the slips. Most of the time, though, he defended inside the line, mostly using his bat to block balls that could hit him in front of the wickets or get past him to the wickets.

When New Zealand’s bowlers bowled fuller and tried hard to get an edge that could be caught, Mendis gave his all to his front-foot strokes, sometimes driving it with authority, other times sending it squirting off the face of the bat through backward point, and other times flicking it deliciously off his pads.

Angelo Mathews
Although Angelo Mathews mainly scored 38 out of his 47 runs through the leg side, his driving down the ground was particularly beautiful to watch.

He got 50 runs off of 40 balls, but New Zealand’s bowlers didn’t have a great morning. 44 of those runs came from fours. He and Dimuth Karunaratne, who was just as steady but less aggressive against balls that could be hit, put together a 137-run partnership at the second wicket that was the key to Sri Lanka’s progress on day one. They would get out in consecutive overs, but when they did, they were often replaced by better batsmen.

Angelo Mathews waited for the shorter balls and scored 38 of his 47 runs through the leg side. He also hit a couple of fours off his pads when the ball was close to him. Dinesh Chandimal liked to hit the ball to the off side, and he did so six times. As Dhananjaya de Silva batted with Kasun Rajitha near the end of the day, he made boundaries whenever he could.

Their scoring areas were different, but almost all of Sri Lanka’s top seven batters covered the stumps, didn’t rush at balls until they were set, didn’t mind when deliveries beat their bats, and didn’t chase seaming balls outside their stumps. Even when bowled at (mostly by Tim Southee and Matt Henry), they didn’t give up, which is something they often do when the ball is turning.

Given Sri Lanka’s long tail and lack of experience in the field, which New Zealand can easily take advantage of, 305 for 6 is not a great first-day score. It is possible that New Zealand will win the match. But given the situation, Sri Lanka were good enough. And it’s not often that you can say that about Sri Lanka on the first day of a match in New Zealand.

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India’s trust is rewarded by Bharat’s skill behind the stumps.




KS Bharat

Sometimes almost everything that makes up a Test match is found in a single ball. One of those balls was the one that knocked Pat Cummins out of the game on the third morning in Delhi. It had the blunt precision of the Indian spinners, the deadly glide that made this pitch so hard to play on, and the sweep, a high-risk, high-reward shot so controversial that a thousand autopsies were written about it.

And there was one more thing. After the ball slipped under Cummins‘ bat, it hit the inside edge of the outside stump, bounced off the side of the middle stump and landed in KS Bharat’s gloves.

The ball didn’t spin sharply, but it didn’t go all the way with the arm either. After it was thrown, it straightened just a little. It also stayed low before bouncing off the stumps twice. Bharat had followed the ball all the way, even as Cummins took a wild swing, and he had collected it cleanly.

It didn’t matter because the ball was dead by the time he reached it, but he did a good job with his glove.

Later that day, when India had lost four wickets and were 27 runs away from their target, Bharat was moved up the order and scored a brilliant unbeaten 23 off 22 balls, including three perfectly timed fours to cover and a solid knock with a slog-swept six.

In his first two Test innings, Bharat had scored 8 and 6 in the first two games of this series. He must have felt much better after that start because he played on Sunday. Some watching from the outside might have even thought he was trying to save his career with that performance.

But India probably wouldn’t have seriously considered taking Bharat out of the game after Delhi, even if he had done nothing in the second innings. They probably know that anyone can score a number of low scores on difficult pitches, and they may have seen glimpses of Bharat’s counter-attacking potential during his brief stint with the Indian national team

In Nagpur, Bharat got rid of Marnus Labuschagne with a sharp stumping.

It took a long time for these things to happen.

In May 2018, Indian senior team officials selected Bharat as the goalkeeper for the four-day tour and Rishabh Pant as the goalkeeper for the 50-over tour. The Indian senior team was also touring England that summer, so the A tour was a shadow tour. At the time, officials felt that Bharat was India’s best pure goalkeeper and Pant was an exciting batsman whose glovework needed work.

When Wriddhiman Saha got injured and could not join the England tour, India included Pant in its Test team in place of Bharat. The genius is going in his own direction.

But Bharat remained an important player in India’s second team. Since the beginning of 2018, he has played 19 first-class matches for the India A team, which is more than any other player except Abhimanyu Easwaran, who bats first. In those India A matches, he has scored 971 runs at a rate of 48.55, including three hundreds.

Last year, when India took Saha out of its test team, Bharat took his place. So it made sense that Bharat made his debut when Pant was injured. The Indian team management may have been tempted by Ishan Kishan’s competing claims, but they chose Bharat at the start of this Border-Gavaskar series.

At the start of the 2019-20 home season, India dropped Pant from the Test programme XI and brought back Saha for a series against South Africa. Virat Kohli described Saha as the best goalkeeper in the world and they felt his good glove work was important on India’s winding tracks. They felt that Pant still needed to work on his goalkeeping. Pant worked on it and became a world-class goalkeeper when India played England in early 2021. Until then, however, Saha was still the first choice for home games.

At the start of this series between India and Australia, the same idea was in play. India appreciates how good Bharat is with the bat, but they know he is their best goalkeeper when Pant is not around.

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