USA Cricket: 2024 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier Tour Review Part 2 – Player Evaluations

2024 May 12 by DreamCricket USA

Part two of the USA squad review at the 2024 ICC Women's T20 World Cup Qualifier in the UAE delves into detailed player evaluations for the entire 15-player squad. 

Photo credit: Francois Nel/ICC/Getty Images

By Peter Della Penna (Twitter/X @PeterDellaPenna)

[Disclaimer - This review encapsulates the T20I portion in Abu Dhabi of USA's tour of the UAE and not the two ODIs in Dubai to begin the tour.] 
Disha Dhingra 

The opening batter from New Jersey finished third overall for USA at the qualifier with 53 runs in four innings. While Dhingra’s runout issues from previous tours appear to have been curbed, she showed vulnerabilities in her technique getting bowled three out of four innings. Two of them were identical shots driving hard at balls pitching outside off which swung in dramatically to bowl her on attempted drives against Kathryn Bryce and Chanida Sutthiruang. Both innings lasted a combined three balls and the latter dismissal showed she hadn’t learned her lesson from two days earlier. 
Against Sri Lanka, Dhingra made her best score of the tournament making 28 off 29 balls and was involved in USA’s largest partnership of the tournament, 52 runs for the second wicket with Sindhu Sriharsha. However, her dismissal demonstrated a disappointing lack of tactical awareness. On the previous ball, Dhingra had charged down the wicket to drive 38-year-old left-arm spinner Inoka Ranaweera back over mid-off for four. Ranaweera is Sri Lanka’s all-time leading wicket-taker in Women’s T20Is. It was highly unlikely that such an experienced bowler would make the same mistake twice by bowling Dhingra a similar ball in the slot. Most bowlers in that scenario tend to overcorrect and drag the length back on the following delivery, which is exactly what Ranaweera did. Dhingra on the other hand was expecting another half-volley and shuffled down the track only for Ranaweera to drag the length back resulting in a miscued drive to extra cover. Dhingra seemed to be caught off guard that an experienced bowler would make an immediate adjustment after conceding a boundary. Hopefully, it was a lesson learned that can be applied going forward in terms of how to approach a top-class bowler. 
In the field, Dhingra was average fielding along the ground, but sometimes took poor angles to balls coming in off the boundary and dropped a crucial chance at long-off in the 19th over against Sri Lanka that allowed Anushka Sanjeewani to add an extra 10 runs. It was another example of a poor route to the ball because Dhingra wound up having to reach high above her head just to get hands to the chance after having come in nearly 10 yards off the rope before it deflected through her hands for a one-bounce four. 
Perhaps the most peculiar aspect of Dhingra’s game is that she has now gone two tournaments in a row without bowling a single ball. She was arguably the quickest bowler in the team in 2022, when she took the new ball against Bangladesh in this same tournament. But whether by personal choice or by team strategy, the fact that she is not contributing overs is a loss for the entire USA setup because it would reduce the need for so many specialist pace bowlers selected in the team and allow them to pick another specialist spinner or batter, which may have come in handy in this tournament. She remains a good prospect for the future, but needs to work on her fielding in particular as well as her shot development to the leg side where she scores few runs. 
Anika Kolan 

The vice-captain made 21 runs in 51 balls faced, which might not sound great but when weighed up against the same tournament in 2022 when she scored 0 run off nine balls in three innings, the only way to go was up. However, the 21 runs came in part through the benefit of several dropped chances or missed runouts in the field that she offered, all of which highlighted her general batting struggles in the tournament. 
She was USA’s leading scorer in the warm-up matches, and did well in the ODIs that preceded the T20I leg too. But once the tournament began, Kolan’s confidence seemed to wane quickly. She was bowled behind her legs in the opening match vs Uganda trying to play an aggressive shot moving across her stumps to sweep behind square leg. It is the kind of shot that USA’s lineup needs to develop if they want to keep bowlers on their toes, manipulate the field and successfully target open boundary options behind square. Unfortunately, the execution in that particular moment didn’t come off. 
Rather than shrug it off and move on in the same attacking mode, Kolan went into a shell for the rest of the tournament. She was on the receiving end of an extremely rough decision against Thailand, given out lbw high on the front foot when the ball was most likely swinging well past leg stump if not going over too. But even if that decision had gone her way, she was not demonstrating confidence in her strokeplay to give any indication that she would have been able to kickstart her innings. 
The fact that Kolan looked so incredibly fluid in the warm-up matches – she scored a half-century against UAE and was also USA’s leading scorer in the ODIs in Dubai with 67 runs in two innings – before struggling significantly in the actual tournament indicates that her struggles are between the ears far more than the technical side. However, like a lot of players, she also needs refining her technique as she tends to push hard at the ball away from or out in front of her body too early, a product of too much cricket on artificial wickets. That was best demonstrated in her innings against Sri Lanka when she offered a return chance going through a drive too early that was put down by pace bowler Udeshika Prabhodani and then eventually fell again pushing too hard in front of her body against Chamari Athapaththu’s spin to shovel a simple catch to mid-off. 
In the field, Kolan dropped a straightforward boundary chance offered by Ailsa Lister in the Scotland match. She looks competent when fielding in the ring, but like many of her teammates is far less assured fielding on the boundary. 
It’s hard to project where Kolan will go from here. Being tabbed vice-captain is a sign that those in charge in the women’s setup see her as a cornerstone player and ostensibly the one who will captain USA at the 2025 ICC Women’s U19 World Cup in Malaysia and Thailand. But future success is far from guaranteed if she doesn’t polish up some of her weaknesses around her technique, temperament and fielding. 
Ritu Singh

Few players appeared to have been miscast in their role as badly as Singh was on this tour. After having great success as a finisher in Los Angeles at the Americas Qualifier, she was pushed up the order and it backfired spectacularly. She scored 16 runs off 29 balls at No. 3 in the match against Uganda, seemingly confused about whether to try to bat long or just go and attack regardless of the consequences. Against Thailand, she was sent in at No. 6 in the eighth over and showed the other reason why batting her early is not recommended because of a flawed and hard-handed technique that leaves her vulnerable to any disciplined bowler attacking the stumps and the result was being bowled first ball. Singh appears to be best utilized in the final five overs when she doesn’t have to think or worry about staying in to bat long but can simply just attack every ball. 
With the ball, Singh seems to also lack a clearly defined role about when her overs are best utilized (if they should be utilized at all). She bowled three overs and conceded 28 runs without taking a wicket.
Singh is one of the best fielders in this squad, but due to not being in the starting XI for two of USA’s four matches, it meant that they were without her in the field and chances that would usually have gone to the boundary positions that she patrols wound up going down in her absence. 
Singh’s technique is probably never going to win any medals and though she opens the batting with success at intraregional and zonal level, her technical faults mean she is more than likely going to continue to struggle at international level if utilized as a top-order option. But she has shown that she can be a match-winner for USA with her explosive batting if her role is simplified to being a death overs finisher. 
Sindhu Sriharsha

The captain was USA’s leading scorer in the qualifier with 63 runs in four innings. USA only had six double-digit impact overs scored during the tournament, but Sriharsha was in the middle for three of them, again highlighting both her boundary striking ability as well as the lack of dot balls she chews up compared to others. Nobody in the squad plays with softer hands than Sriharsha, which also means that nobody scores more runs with delicate and deft glances behind point. She’s also one of the few players in the team capable of sweeping and manipulates the field well. As she has shown during her appearances in Fairbreak while captaining Warriors, Sriharsha can be a far more fluent strokeplayer when better talent is surrounding her, but the weight of pressure trying to prop up an incredibly young USA squad appeared to have taken its toll in her relatively low scoring output compared to prior events.
Behind the stumps, Sriharsha took four catches and completed two stumpings. Her one drop was an extremely costly one as a one-handed diving effort with Immaculate Nakisuuyi on 8 popped out of her glove when her elbow hit the ground on the landing. Nakisuuyi went on to make 68 not out in a match-winning innings. 
As a captain, it’s unclear how much of a say Sriharsha has in team selection once the tour begins, but the tactical decision to leave out Saanvi Immadi in the opening match vs Uganda was costly and some of the decisions related to the batting order also did not pan out. 
Regardless of the aggregate output on this tour, Sriharsha is still USA’s best player. How much patience she has to stick around and endure the growing pains of the extremely young squad around her remains to be seen. 
Gargi Bhogle 

Perhaps the most hard-done by player on tour, Bhogle provided a desperately needed finishing kick for USA in the Uganda match, entering at No. 5 with five overs to go and scored 19 not out off 16 balls, including nine runs off her bat in the only double-digit over USA had in the entire batting innings. She was rewarded with a move up the order to open the chase against Scotland. Attacking the first ball wide outside off from Kathryn Bryce, Bhogle miscued it for an easy catch to backward point. She tried to be positive in a situation that required USA to be positive chasing a target of 150. The execution didn’t pan out but the shot was on. 
Her reward was being dropped for the final two matches. She had been bowled attempting aggressive drives in both of USA’s warm-up matches against Zimbabwe and Ireland, so perhaps that played a factor in the decision too. But if so, it’s something that sends a terrible message to both Bhogle and the rest of the squad, and may have explained the overall hesitancy to attack by a number of other players. If you attack and get out, you’ll be punished for it. The data analytics of T20 cricket has shown that a first-ball duck is far less damaging to a team’s overall innings than say making 1 off 8 balls, or staying at the crease for 15+ balls with a strike rate under 60, but you wouldn’t know that from the way Bhogle was dropped while other players were persisted with.  
Taking Bhogle out of the lineup also meant USA was without their preferred fielder at extra cover, where at least one catch went down in her absence, as well as one of the few players on the team that is noticeably vocal on field in lifting the spirits of the bowlers and the energy levels of the entire fielding unit. Taking Bhogle out of the lineup also leaves USA without any left-handers in their top 7. Having a left-right combo at the crease caused problems for bowlers even the caliber of Scotland and Sri Lanka in other matches during the tournament. It was another tactical decision that appeared short-sighted. 
Going forward, Bhogle should hopefully remain a key player for USA. But it remains to be seen whether or not her confidence has been damaged through the way in which she was dropped mid-tournament. 
Isani Vaghela

The northern California allrounder finished second on the team in aggregate runs with 56 off 65 balls and had a team-best average of 28.00. Her best knock came with 30 off 26 balls in a situation against Scotland that USA were hopelessly out of contention with the score 50 for 7 in the 11th over chasing a target of 150. Vaghela was almost an accidental finisher on tour due to the failures of others who were meant to be in the role. 
Vaghela’s run total is somewhat of an anomaly due to her limited scoring options. She scores almost exclusively in the V, with a second option being a punch out to the cover sweeper. But it is extremely rare to see her score behind square and any runs she does score there come unintentionally through edges. Like several other teenagers from northern California playing mostly on artificial wickets, Vaghela is often hard-handed and playing too early, another reason why her scoring is limited to zones in front of the wicket. 
With the ball, Vaghela was the pace bowler who generated by far the most seam and swing movement for USA and it contributed to her three wickets at an average of 22.00, both second-best on the team on tour. Her figures would look even better if the edge she produced against Immaculate Nakisuuyi in her opening spell against Uganda had been held on 8. Despite an overall economy of 6.00, she was inconsistent at times. Three of her 11 overs bowled went for double-digits. When she’s in rhythm, she poses plenty of problems. But that is when and if she is in rhythm. 
As for Vaghela’s fielding, she has one of the stronger and more accurate throwing arms on the team, a reason why she is often placed on the boundary. Yet she often takes poor angles to balls resulting in singles and twos turning into fours. She was also responsible for two missed chances. 
At this point in time, Vaghela’s future as a bowler is far more promising than her batting, though she needs to develop more consistency with the ball and eliminate some of the lapses she has from spell to spell. On the batting side, Vaghela is a solid timer of the ball but struggles for placement by playing with hard hands and needs to work on playing with softer hands in order to improve her scoring efficiency, especially against higher-class teams. 
Jessica Willathgamuwa

No bowler had worse luck than Willathgamuwa on tour. She ended with figures of 0 for 65 in nine overs. However, she had four chances dropped off her bowling, more than anyone else on the team. Several of these drops went on to go over the rope for four and it was a contributing factor in her conceding the most double-digit overs of any bowler on the team, four of them in her nine overs. Having said that, she does often bowl boundary balls or balls on lengths that opposition batters are eager to attack. If you’re a bowler in the USA squad that is relying on fielders to help you convert wickets rather than attacking the stumps for bowled and lbw dismissals, it’s a recipe for disaster. 
With the bat, the left-hander scored 10 runs off 19 balls in two innings and was at the crease for one of USA’s six double-digit overs in the tournament which came when she benefitted from a dropped chance at mid-on against Scotland. Though she has a decent technique, she generally struggled to score and ran herself out against Thailand through self-inflicted pressure. 
In the field, Willathgamuwa is one of USA’s better fielders along the ground, in the air and in terms of throwing arm strength. Somehow, the ball seemed to find other fielders more regularly on this tour, lessening her possible impact in the catching department. 
If there’s one thing Willathgamuwa needs to focus on, it’s sharpening her bowling length to build more dot ball pressure. At the moment, bowling full to encourage a drive for a wicket caught in front of square is not the most prudent strategy in light of USA’s catching struggles. 
Aditi Chudasama

In spite of her role as a spinner, Chudasama was actually consistently more effective bowling with the new ball than the majority of USA’s pace options when it came to restricting runs and building pressure. She bowled a team-high 14.2 overs in the tournament at an economy rate of 5.09 and took three wickets, including a best of 2 for 25 against Scotland that included the wickets of Sarah Bryce and a rampaging Ailsa Lister. Three wickets are not a fair representation of how well she bowled and in a team with better fielding support around her, Chudasama would more than likely see better statistical reflections in the key categories. 
Against Uganda, she returned 0 for 10 in four overs and the amount of respect their lineup showed her in focusing on seeing off her spell showed not only what they thought of her, but also what they thought of where they felt they could easily target other bowlers. She only conceded one double-digit over in the tournament, her second over against Sri Lanka. But she bounced back and conceded just six runs in her final two overs in that match. This included the 18th over when she gave away just four runs, which looks mighty impressive considering that the 17th, 19th and 20th all went for 10 or more runs. 
On the batting side, Chudasama finally got her first chance in a USA uniform when the team was spiraling quickly south against Scotland. She entered at No. 5 and made a run a ball 20 before getting out shoveling a catch to Kathryn Bryce at extra cover falling to the offspin of Katherine Fraser. It was yet another example of a USA player getting into the habit of playing too early with hard hands, especially against spin. That was highlighted by her dismissal against Thailand, bowled by left-arm spinner Thipatcha Putthawong.
Fielding wise, Chudasama mixed the good with the bad. She spilled Lister fielding on the straight boundary at long-on in a situation where she looked like she hesitated getting to the ball earlier over concern at possibly colliding with Suhani Thadani who was coming across from long-off. She was generally assured along the ground, but bungled multiple runout chances on tour, whether from her position in the ring or not being able to cleanly collect relays when standing over the non-striker’s stumps. 
Chudasama may have won countless awards at domestic level for her batting, but her offspin – especially as a new ball bowler in the Powerplay – has quickly turned into her greatest asset playing for the national team. If she can remain consistent, she will be hard to leave out for the foreseeable future. In terms of batting opportunities, she can hardly do worse than the output seen elsewhere in the lineup if she is given a chance to bat higher up. 
Pooja Ganesh

The 16-year-old only played two matches in the tournament, ending with 20 runs off 30 balls. It may not look like it on the stats column or match scorecard itself, but her 13 off 14 balls provided a brief spark in a hopeless situation against Thailand, especially considering 12 of those runs came off boundaries through the type of cross-bat shots, whether against pace or spin, that few others in the lineup were willing to even attempt let alone succeed at. The flip side of that is that she had 10 dot balls, highlighting again how much of a struggle it is for many players to play with soft hands and rotate the strike to alleviate pressure.  
In the field, Ganesh was a spark plug and demonstrated plenty of athleticism at diving to deny runs in the ring. She also has a strong throwing arm despite being the second-youngest player in the team. Going forward, she is someone who has the type of mentality both at bat and in the field that can challenge higher-class opposition. 
Geetika Kodali

The former vice-captain was USA’s leading wicket-taker on tour with four wickets in 12.2 overs at an average of 18.00 and a 5.83 economy rate. While Chudasama was USA’s most effective Powerplay bowler at keeping runs down and building pressure, Kodali was USA’s most effective Powerplay bowler in terms of taking wickets. Three of her four wickets came in the opening over. Her other wicket came off the first ball of her second over in the Powerplay against Scotland. Not many bowlers can claim to have the scalps of Chamari Athapaththu and Nattaya Boochatham in the space of three days. She also had one other chance dropped off her bowling. 
That’s the good. The bad is that for as good as Kodali was up front, she struggled when brought back for a second spell in the late overs. All three of her double-digit overs conceded in the tournament came at the death, including two against Sri Lanka which handed back momentum going into the innings break in a low-scoring match. 
Kodali’s batting at the death also has been a struggle. Tabbed to serve in a finisher’s role, she produced 6 runs off 17 balls at an average of 2. Quite simply, more was expected of her in the situations she entered with the bat but she didn’t deliver.
In terms of her fielding, Kodali was mostly anonymous. No dropped chances, but also didn’t really make much of an impact in terms of saving runs either. Her one noteworthy contribution was being correctly positioned over the stumps to receive a relay from Pooja Shah to complete a runout in the Sri Lanka match.
Captain Sriharsha stated in the final post-match presentation against Sri Lanka that Kodali’s contributions were even more impressive in light of recurring shoulder issues that she was managing during the tournament. Kodali also had a shoulder issue which hampered her in the same women’s qualifier tournament in 2022 and though Kodali was never willing to concede it and defiantly claimed to be fully fit for the 2023 ICC Women’s U19 T20 World Cup, there is a suspicion that shoulder issues were partly a reason she underbowled herself at that event. The highest priority for Kodali going forward is prudent load management and injury rehabilitation because having recurring shoulder issues as a 19-year-old is a red flag. 
Jivana Aras

One of the few non-teenagers in the squad, Aras is still developmentally raw having only begun playing cricket in 2020. She bowled well in the first official warm-up match against Zimbabwe. But she struggled against Ireland and then even more once the tournament began. In three overs against Uganda and Scotland, she conceded 30 runs. Two of her three overs were double-digit impact overs, including one in a momentum-shifting sequence after drinks against Uganda. 
Batting-wise, Aras combined with Vaghela for a 39-run face-saving partnership against Scotland and finished on 24 not out off 28 balls. Despite that batting contribution, she was dropped for the next match and didn’t return, ostensibly because team management views bowling as being her primary skill. 
Fielding-wise, Aras was weak along the ground, conceding several boundaries due to slow reaction time off the bat. However, she took USA’s only catch of the tournament by anyone not named Sindhu Sriharsha when she held onto a catch at short third off of Sarah Bryce to give Chudasama a wicket.
As has been written before, Aras’ batting skills are underutilized and arguably where her long-term future lies since she appears to have maxed out on how much pace she can bowl with and may have been miscast as a bowler first. Having a tall frame contributes to Aras’ power-hitting ability and she times the ball very well. Add in the fact that she is left-handed in a right-hand dominant lineup and she has multiple batting traits that make her stand out. She has shown she is capable of hitting sixes at domestic level. If she can demonstrate the same capability at international level, Aras may be the finisher USA didn’t know they have right under their nose. 
Saanvi Immadi

The 15-year-old was arguably the biggest bright spot of the tour for USA. The debutant legspinner – who gave up fast bowling less than two years ago to focus on wrist-spin – showed extraordinary confidence, not to mention control. USA used nine bowlers in the tournament and Immadi was the only one to never concede a double-digit over. She took two wickets in 10 overs at an average of 22.50 and a 4.50 economy rate. She very easily could have had four wickets as a stone dead lbw shout against Kathryn Bryce was denied while another chance was dropped off her bowling against Thailand off the bat of captain Naruemol Chaiwai. 
Batting-wise, she showed she could at least hold up an end as she lasted 25 balls against Thailand to ensure USA avoided being bowled out for their lowest total in T20Is. In the field, Immadi was weak in multiple areas and needs vast improvement. 
Suhani Thadani

The 17-year-old only bowled four overs across three matches – she was not given an over in the 10 overs that Thailand batted during their chase of a target of 55 – and conceded 29 runs without ever threatening to take a wicket and was left out of the final match against Sri Lanka. It’s hard to claim that Thadani has gotten bad or regressed since she made her debut in 2021, but other players have gone past her in the pace bowling hierarchy.
Batting-wise, Thadani scored 3 runs off 9 balls as a tailender. In the field, she dropped one chance and was otherwise anonymous. 
The reality is that much in the same way Lisa Ramjit’s career for USA came to an end because she helped to inspire other age-group peers to compete, the same fate might happen to Thadani. After being USA’s leading wicket-taker in Mexico in 2021, other teenagers looked up to her and got inspired. Now, that inspiration she provided to others may wind up being a reason that her role in the USA squad becomes even more limited moving forward unless she shows significant improvement in all three facets of the game. 
Sai Eyyunni

The 16-year-old legspinner had a tour to forget. Not only was she the only squad member to not get an ODI cap, she bowled a solitary over in the two official warm-up matches (against Ireland conceding nine runs) and then was on the bench for three matches before bowling a solitary over against Sri Lanka conceding 11 runs. The fact that she began her spell by overstepping for a no ball hinted at a lack of focus. Separate from that, her body language in the field and in her lone over also conveyed a lack of confidence. 
Eyyunni did not bat. In the field, she had no drops but also made little impact in terms of saving runs. 
On this same tour in 2022, Eyyunni took three wickets and bowled very respectably against both Ireland and Bangladesh. Getting back to that form may simply be about regaining confidence. 
Pooja Shah

The 18-year-old made her T20I debut in the last match against Sri Lanka and turned in a more than respectable performance. Firstly in the field, she was the catalyst for USA’s first runout at this tournament since the loser’s bracket playoff against Namibia in 2019. It was a sequence that most of USA’s fielders are incapable of in several regards, thus enhancing Shah’s value: solid footspeed to the ball; clean collection; quick, accurate and strong relay to the bowler Kodali who took off the bails. All of these traits make Shah stand out as one of the better athletes in the squad and it’s a shame that it took until the last match for viewers to get a chance to see it. 
With the bat, Shah got off the mark edging a four past the wicketkeeper, but afterward she settled down and wound up unbeaten on 20 off 15 balls, though she did survive a dropped chance on 11. Crucially, she only had two dot balls in her innings. It wouldn’t hurt if some of her USA teammates took a page out of Shah’s book when it comes to limiting dot balls and maximizing batting efficiency. 
Shah’s future role in the team is not clearly defined in terms of her batting and bowling. But if fielding is prioritized, then she should hopefully see more action. 

[Views expressed in this article are those of the author, who was present in Abu Dhabi for all T20 matches on USA's tour of the UAE, and do not necessarily represent the views of DreamCricket management. If you have different views or viewpoints, we respect those views and urge you to provide your feedback, both positive and negative. Feel free to respond to the author via Twitter/X @PeterDellaPenna.]