The USA Women’s U19 squad scripted history earlier this year as the premier female American team to vie for glory in a Cricket World Cup.
And despite suffering a narrow loss to Scotland in their group’s fourth-place matchup, the Women’s U19 World Cup showpiece brought forth a resounding canyon of potential.
The U.S. men’s cricketing landscape has been akin to a phoenix rising from the ashes. This revival has been accentuated by the launch of Major League Cricket this past summer and the nation’s impending dual-role as host and contender in the 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. A parallel trajectory is blossoming on the female front as a Fairbreak Invitational is planted for 2024 on American soil, and the U.S. women’s squad is looking to cement a WT20 World Cup berth at the 2024 Women’s T20 World Cup Global Qualifier.
USA Cricket’s Foundational Plan in 2021 emphasized efforts in spurring on the development of female cricket in the USA. The events that have ensued since have demonstrated earnest adherence to the blueprint.
In its third-ever rendition, USA Cricket is set to host the U19 Women’s National Championship in a brawl of the coasts. The East and West squads will compete in four matches through Veterans Day weekend, converging outside of Houston, Texas at the Prairie View Cricket Complex. Beyond competing for their region, the epilogue of the tournament will feature the initiation of a select flock of girls to forge a Women’s National Training Group.
Spearheading the coastal troops will be Aditiba Chudasama and Anika Kolan for the East and West, respectively. On top of competing at this year’s U19 World Cup, the 17-year-old captains showcased their mettle by playing key roles in the U.S.’ successful campaign at this year’s Women’s T20 World Cup Americas Qualifier.
Chudasama proved her bowling prowess in her WT20I debut against Argentina, as the right-arm off-spinner’s skills elicited false strokes from her adversaries and created wicket opportunities for the women in blue. In her 2.3-over spell, Chudasama added two wickets to her name at a miserly economy rate of 2.40 to propel the U.S.’ 79-run domination over Argentina.
Anika Kolan mustered a steady 54 runs in the same affair, striking at just under a run a ball to bring up her maiden WT20I half-century. In the repeat fixture against the Argentinian women, the right-hand batter fell two runs shy of a second WT20I fifty. Nevertheless, the fluidity of Kolan’s calculated strokeplay allowed her to anchor the American innings and receive her first WT20I Player of the Match award – further carving her name in as an emerging talent in the Twenty20 format.
Chudasama’s bowling figures only skyrocketed through the tournament, as she was entrusted with a full quota following her spell in game one. When the curtains closed on the Qualifers, the youngster had returned nine wickets across the six fixtures at an impressive economy rate of 3.15. Opposition had little response to her efforts, as she was able to strike for the US women in all six matches.
Kolan’s batting finesse will set the pace for the East conference as Chudasama’s flight and guile will chart the course for the West.
From the most recent U.S. playing XI that featured at the Woodley Cricket Complex in Los Angeles, six will appear in this weekend’s contests – Disha Dhingra, Anika Kolan, Ritu Singh, Isani Vaghela, Aditiba Chudasama and Suhani Thadani.
USA Cricket has emphasized the additions of young women to the senior team, offering the Under-19 talents a dive inside veteran waters. And as the imminent championship unfolds, the nation’s budding talent will battle it out for a spot in the Under-19 squad – but it will, simultaneously, manufacture the next generation of women to join the Women’s National Squad.
So beyond the long-time members of Team USA, I’ve shortlisted a powerhouse from the east and west who may not have starred in the senior team’s most recent exhibition – but are paving a path of promise to do so soon.
Eastern Conference: Bhumika Bhadriraju
It’s been a year since right-arm off-spinner Bhumika Bhadriraju took the reins on the international ground – her last showing for the USA women was against UAE in September of last year, after which the 18-year-old traveled with the Under-19 squad to South Africa.
Bhadriraju’s absence from the most recent home series was due to overlapping school commitments. With a WT20I bowling average below 14 at an economy of 5.2, the USA Women’s National Team selectors will have a keen eye on her performances at the U19 National Championships and hope to have her services available for their next assignment.
In the 2022 display of this tournament, Bhadriraju returned with a scalp in each game and delivered a stellar performance in the third fixture with figures of 4/16. This weekend, she will look to harness the lessons garnered during her tenure in South Africa.
Western Conference: Chetna Pagydyala
After conceding just 3.5 runs per over alongside one wicket in her WT20I debut, Chetna Pagydyala awaits the potential of securing further appearances in the US Women’s National squad.
The young 15-year-old’s versatile facilities with the ball were advertised as she ran through three of Brazil’s batters. Pagydyala began her stint bidding farewell to Brazil’s captain with a caught-and-bowled act, and found her next two prey in back-to-back balls of the 17th over. Pagydyala trapped Marianna Arthur in front of the stumps to hand the batter an LBW decision, after which the left-arm off-spinner found the gap between Maria Silva’s bat and pad to disturb her stumps and send her back to the Brazilian pavilion.
Pagydyala’s spell was characterized by excellent control, as her stump-to-stump lines proved unanswerable for the Brazilian women.
The coin flips up for the tournament’s first contest on Friday at 2 p.m. local time, followed by a doubleheader on Saturday and a concluding showdown on Sunday morning.
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