The Indian women’s team will finally set off for 12 months without any international cricket and will begin their ODI World Cup preparations with a five-match series against South Africa starting on Sunday. While South Africa re-entered the series with their home rubber against Pakistan last month, the Indians last played on March 8, 2020 when they lost to Australia in the T20 World Cup final. The quarantine protocol in COVID time has given both teams only a two-day net, making it harder for players to perform their best from the word go.
It can be safely said that Indians have lagged behind in their World Cup preparations compared to the likes of England, New Zealand and Australia, who have played regularly amid the epidemic.
The new selection committee has come up with its own approach and six uncapped players were selected for the eight-match competition, including three T20s, including senior players like Shikha Pandey, Tanya Bhatia and Veda Krishnamurthy.
The absence of T20 star Shaifali Verma for ODIs has also raised eyebrows.
Harmanpreet Kaur, who is Mithali Raj’s deputy in the ODI and T20 captain, insisted that Jung would not be an issue for her and the players are itching to get on the field after a long hiatus.
Harmanpreet said, “It was a long break but sometimes things are not in your control. Now we have to play cricket and we have to make sure that we use this time and make our best combination for the upcoming tournaments.” One day on Sunday, two days before the series opener.
Although the players did not get much playing time in the last one year, they ensured that their fitness remained unaffected.
Some players, including Jemimah Rodrigues and Deepti Sharma, used the free time to play in the club’s tournament as they did not know when the next India assignment would arrive.
With the ODI World Cup to be held in New Zealand early next year, the team will have to find options in the middle-order and pace department.
South Africa, which recently defeated Pakistan 3–0, will miss the services of their regular captain van van Neekerch and all-rounder Chloe Tyran for the tour of India.
Sune Luce will lead the side in Niček’s absence. The visitors found very little time to acclimatise to the conditions, but they went into the series with a much longer match time than the host team.
All games will be played at Kala Ekana Stadium with a crowd capacity of 10 percent.
Women of India: Mithali Raj (Captain), Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Poonam Raut, Priya Punia, Yastika Bhatia, Harmanpreet Kaur, D Hemlata, Deepti Sharma, Sushma Verma (Wicket Keeper), Sweta Verma, Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gaekwad Johar Mansi Joshi, Poonam Yadav, C. Pratyusha, Monica Patel.
Women of South Africa: Sune Luce (Captain), Ayabonga Khaka, Shabineem Ismail, Laura Volvard, Trisha Chetty, Sinalo Jafta, Tasmine Brittz, Marijane Cup, Nondumu Shonghe, Liezel Lee, Anneke Bosch, Faye Tunclinliffe, Nokuloko, Nokuloko. Lara Goodall, Tumi Sekhune.
The match will start at 9 am.
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