Which U19 stars are heading to the Women's T20 World Cup and how have they played?
Let’s take a look at which young players have been selected for their senior squads and how each of them fared in the U19 tournament:
Shafali Verma (India)
Perhaps the biggest star to feature in the inaugural U19 Women’s T20 World Cup, Shafali Verma’s presence in South Africa since early January shows India’s seriousness about the two ICC events.
In the U19 World Cup, Verma was given the captaincy and got off to a sparkling start in her role as an opener, hitting 172 runs at a strike rate of 193.25, playing a starring role in India’s wins over South Africa (45 from 16) and UAE (78 from 34).
The campaign was a big success for the player as India went on to lift the cup under her leadership.
She also took the opportunity to give her bowling a bit of a workout, hinting that it may be of use to India’s senior side next month.
Verma’s form will be a huge factor in determining India’s fate in the senior World Cups.
Amy Hunter (Ireland)
Amy Hunter has plenty of international experience on her side. She made her mark quite early in international cricket by becoming the youngest international centurion at 16, and the youngster was also a part of the Ireland team which recently won a T20I series against Pakistan in Pakistan. She played a crucial role in sealing the decider in that series with a resolute 40 from 34.
Hunter was named as the Ireland skipper for the U19 World Cup, and featured in the two warm-up games leading up to the tournament, scoring 54 runs.
In the group stages, Hunter scored 21 from 25 in a close loss against the West Indies, but was then forced to sit out the rest of the tournament due to an injury. Given her talent, Ireland will be hoping that she regains full fitness before the Women’s T20 World Cup begins.
Shorna Akter (Bangladesh)
Shorna Akter delivered several impressive performances in the U19 World Cup to cement her spot in the Bangladesh senior squad.
The internationally uncapped player played a crucial role in two confidence-boosting wins for the Tigresses in the warm-up games. Her 20* from 21 and 78* from 38 against South Africa and India respectively, helped Bangladesh to tight wins.
Come the tournament proper, she continued to shine in bigger challenges. Shorna’s 23* from 18 helped Bangladesh overhaul Australia’s total of 130 in the big opening-day win, while her blistering 50* from 28 helped them to a winning total against Sri Lanka.
Being an all-rounder adds to her usefulness, and she can be turned to for four handy overs of leg spin if needed.
Richa Ghosh (India)
India’s first-choice wicket-keeper is renowned for her aggressive batting style, and can put any bowling line-up to the sword as her T20I strike rate of 134.27 shows.
Richa Ghosh came into the World Cups after a fascinating series against Australia, where she shone in the fourth T20I by nearly getting India over the line with her scintillating batting (40* from 19).
Ghosh hit 93 runs in a middle-order role during the U19 T20 World Cup, finishing with an average of 23.25 and a strike-rate of 127.39. The player was sharp as usual behind the stumps, and pulled off a brilliant stumping in the final.
Like Verma, she’ll be a crucial first-choice player in the senior side, and will carry great confidence forward from her U19 triumph.
Fran Jonas (New Zealand)
Marked as a cricketer with international pedigree early on in her career, Fran Jonas was the youngest player to receive a development contract with the New Zealand women’s cricket side back in 2020. Her slow left-arm orthodox bowling has been particularly effective in T20Is, garnering her 13 wickets at an average of 13.46 and a miserly economy of 4.08.
Jonas was originally a part of the New Zealand squad for the U19 Women’s T20 World Cup, but was withdrawn after picking up a calf injury. She was given a two-week rehabilitation time frame, which means that the bowler is expected to be available for the Women’s T20 World Cup despite her lack of U19 action.
Georgia Plimmer (New Zealand)
The right-handed batter from Wellington enjoyed a solid outing in the U19 World Cup, scoring 155 runs at an average of 51.66 and a strike rate of 143.51.
Her standout knocks include a 41* from 22 against West Indies and 53 from 38 against Pakistan.
While she has floated around the top and middle order for the senior side, during the U19 World Cup Plimmer played as a top-order batter.
Disha Biswas (Bangladesh)
The Bangladesh U19 skipper has shone over the last few months. Disha Biswas featured in the home matches against Malaysia in September, where she picked up eight wickets, and she was subsequently picked for the tour of New Zealand.
In South Africa with the U19s she picked up five wickets at an average of 23.2.
Besides her bowling and leadership skills, she is also a handy batter, and can add crucial runs lower down the order.
Georgina Dempsey (Ireland)
The Ireland medium-fast bowler is also a useful lower-order batter for the senior side. The new ball bowler has impressive economy rates in ODIs (4.8) and T20Is (7.16), and is often relied upon to rein in the opposition’s scoring rates.
For the U19 team, she takes the ball and bats in the middle order. She was disciplined with the ball in the group stages, returning 0/24 against West Indies, 1/27 against New Zealand and 1/5 against Indonesia. She also displayed her batting skills with a 50 from 38 against Indonesia.
Still a student like her countrymate Hunter, Dempsey will look to excel in the sterner cricketing examinations to come at the senior tournament.
Marufa Akter (Bangladesh)
Like Biswas and Dilara, Marufa Akter was also a part of the Bangladesh squad that toured New Zealand. She picked up 2/22 on her T20I debut, accounting for Sophie Devine and Plimmer.
The handy seamer impressed in South Africa for the U19s. She picked up 3/13 in the warm-up win against the hosts, and finished with eight wickets at an average of 12.12 in the tournament.
Marufa proved to be equally effective with the new ball and in the latter overs. She has also demonstrated the ability to break partnerships.