Playing International Cricket after almost a year, India was handed a 1-4 defeat, by the touring South African side in the ODI series. In the series where things stop to turn in the favour of India, Harmanpreet Kaur, the India skipper has been ruled out from the first T20I due to injury and Smriti Mandhana will lead the side.

Both the teams stand in sharp contrast before the first match. India, who played the World Cup didn’t have had a good outing with the bat in the World Cup. None of the batters rather than Shafali Verma possessed any threat to the opposition. And when she didn’t click, like in the final, India was nowhere in the game. Her 487 runs came at a strike rate of 146.

Shafali even took less than 5 balls to hit a boundary (4.21). She created carnage in West Indies as well when 42-ball 73 and unbeaten 69 from 44 balls announced her arrival in world cricket. In the 19 matches she has played, she faced more than 10 balls 10 times and India never lost those matches. Her brisk but whirl-wind knocks set the tone of the matches for India. Even Smriti Mandhana’s 418 runs with a strike-rate of 120 looked blurred in front of Shafali Verma.

Because of her, Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues got the opportunity to take their time before the onslaught. From 9th March 2019, the Indian top-order not only piled up almost 60% of the run but at the same time their scoring rate increased too. They (1-3) batted at the strike rate of 118 while took 5.69 balls to hit a boundary. In both cases, they were 2nd only to Australia.

Indian top-order provided ‘the aggressive cricket’, which Harmanpreet Kaur is fond of and it was visible from the fact that they had scored 63.19% of their runs through boundaries. While Australia, consisted of players like Beth Mooney and Alyssa Healy scored 63.92% of runs through boundaries in 20 matches. Even in the T20 World Cup 2020, the Indian top-order scored at a rate of more than 8 in power-play, except the final.

Indian middle-order remains an area of concern. Harmanpreet failed miserably in the World Cup and her omission will make the vulnerable. India can go with Harleen Deol in the lower order, who scored runs with a strike rate of 170 in the Women’s T20 Challenge. On the other hand, Sushma Verma, who scored runs in the Women’s T20 Challenge last year in the UAE, failed miserably and her bad form in ODI matches raised few eyebrows too.

Meanwhile, the spinners of India has been their main striking force even in the shortest format of the game. Poonam Yadav who remained wicketless in the four ODI matches recently – will try to redeem the lost reputation. So as Radha Yadav and Deepti Sharma. Shikha Pandey who has been the go-to bowler for her skipper in the T20 matches – has not been included in the side. Comparatively young pace brigade will look to place their candidature in the upcoming matches.

On the other hand, South Africa will be booming with confidence. Lizelle Lee has been in tremendous form from the ODI series. Mingon Du Preez, from the last couple of years, has been instrumental in the middle order. She not only gave stability but at the same time, her increased strike-rate gave the desired boost. Laura Wolvaardt has rediscovered herself in the new role. Along with her, all-rounders like Marizanne Kapp and Nadine de Klerk is capable of snatch the game.

South African pace-bowling department is regarded as one of the fiercest bowling attacks. Shabnim Ismail and Kapp were in good form in last year’s WBBL too. Batters find Ismail’s pace difficult to cope with. Ismail has been instrumental in Sydney Thunders’ WBBL victory as well.

South African young guns like Lara Goodall, Anneke Bosch, Faye Tunnicliffe, Nonkululeko Mlaba will like to show their talent or even continue their form from the ODI series. South Africa who lost their last T20 series against India by (1-4) will look to rewrite the history.

Squad

India: Harmanpreet Kaur (Captain), Smriti Mandhana (vice-captain), Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Richa Ghosh, Harleen Deol, Sushma Verma (wicket-keeper), Nuzhat Parveen (wicket-keeper), Ayushi Soni, Arundhati Reddy, Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Mansi Joshi, Monica Patel, C. Prathyusha, Simran Dil Bahadur

South Africa: Sune Luus (Captain), Ayabonga Khaka, Shabnim Ismail, Laura Wolvaardt, Trisha Chetty, Sinalo Jafta, Tasmin Britz, Marizanne Kapp, Nondumiso Shangase, Lizelle Lee, Anneke Bosch, Faye Tunnicliffe, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Mignon du Preez, Nadine de Klerk, Lara Goodall, Tumi Sekhukhune

India vs SA Series Fixture:

20 March – 1st T20I

21 March – 2nd T20I

23 March – 3rd T20I

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