Devika Vaidya got emotional when she was told that she had been selected for the India women’s team for a five-match T20 series against Australia which will be played in Mumbai starting next week.

There were two reasons for the Pune girl’s reaction. First, she was making her comeback into the Indian T20 team after a gap of eight years and second, she couldn’t help but think about her late mother Maushami, who passed away in 2019 due to cardiac arrest.

“She would have been delighted to know about my selection to the Indian team. I have worked hard on my all-round skills and executed my plans well in the last two years,” added 25-year-old Vaidya, who last played a T20I for India in 2014 against South Africa and played her only ODI for India in 2018 against England. Even, though, she was part of the Indian World Cup T20 team in 2018 but she did not get a game.

Vaidya was so disturbed by her mother’s death that she lost her focus on the sport and she came very close to quitting the sport as the pandemic followed soon after but it was her maternal grandparents and father who motivated her to start afresh.

A leg-spinner and useful batter, Vaidya was determined to do well and get back in the Indian team when the BCCI planned to hold domestic matches during the pandemic.

“I went into a shell after my mother’s demise. I was not ready for this loss. But then my family and friends encouraged me to start again and do it for my late mother. So, I pushed hard and gave it my all to come back in form. I have now got this chance and now I have to make it count,” said Vaidya who scored 130 runs in five innings at an average of 32.50 and a strike rate of 109.24, apart from picking up six wickets in the inter-state T20 tournament and then followed it up with a fine showing in the inter-zonal playing for the West Zone.

Vaidya will be a good leg-spin option for India with out-of-form Poonam Yadav not being in the team.

India have named a 15-member side for the upcoming five-match T20Is, starting December 9.

Uncapped left-arm bowler Anjali Sarvani has been named in the squad which will be led by India’s regular skipper Harmanpreet Kaur with Smriti Mandhana as her deputy.

A notable absentee from the squad is Pooja Vastrakar, who is ruled out owing to an injury and subsequently was not considered for selection, while Sneh Rana, D Hemalatha, and Kiran Navgire, who all were a part of the Asia Cup which India won in October, are also a few names missing from the team.

With the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 fast approaching, the five-match assignment will be crucial for both India and Australia in finding the right combination for the mega-tournament.

Wicket-keeper Yastika Bhatia, who wasn’t part of the Asia Cup, is making a return to the side. India have also named four net bowlers along with the main squad.

Both sides will play the first two matches at DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai before moving the action to Brabourne Stadium.

Squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Renuka Singh Thakur, Meghna Singh, Anjali Sarvani, Devika Vaidya, S Meghana, Richa Ghosh (wk), Harleen Deol.

Net bowlers – Monika Patel, Arundhati Reddy, SB Pokharkar, Simran Bahadur

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