Reema Malhotra feels the women’s T20 World Cup, which opens at Sydney on Saturday, could be a game-changer for the sport.
“It is easily the most anticipated event in women’s cricket ever,” Reema, who has represented India in three T20 World Cups, told The Hindu. “Cricket Australia (CA) is doing a great job in promoting the event.”
CA is trying to fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the final on March 8, which also happens to be the International Women’s Day, and make it the biggest crowd ever for a women’s match (the ground could seat more than 100,000). “I think CA could succeed in its endeavour,” said Reema, who will be commentating on the World Cup matches.
She reckons Australia, India, England and New Zealand are the strongest contenders. “But India, Australia and New Zealand are grouped together, so one team will have to miss out from the semifinals,” says the former all-rounder who has played 41 ODIs and 22 T20Is. “India certainly has the team to go all the way.”
She feels the spinners could do the job for India. “The team has the best spin attack in the world,” she says. “Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav, Deepti Sharma and Rajeshwari Gayakwad are all fine bowlers. I believe the spinners could play a vital role in T20, even on the Australian wickets.”
Reema adds India will also need runs from beyond its formidable top-order. “Somebody like Veda Krishnamurthy will have to come up with useful contributions,” she says. “India’s batting line-up, I feel, is as strong as any other team’s.”
Indeed Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Varma, Jemimah Rodrigues and captain Harmanpreet Kaur are all capable of taking the game away.
“I expect a lot from Shafali,” says Reema. “She may be just 16 but she has already become a star with her big hitting. I think this World Cup could turn her into a superstar.”