Team India will take on South Africa in a limited-overs series at Lucknow with the five-match ODI series from Sunday (March 7). This is going to be their first international series after a year as the global pandemic novel COVID-19 hit the world last year and put it into a standstill. However, the vice-captain, Harmanpreet Kaur shared that there’s no ‘rustiness’ in the team in her recent media interaction ahead of the first ODI.

Team India last feature in the final of the T20 World Cup against Australia on March 8, 2020. Since then, they only played in the Women’s T20 Challenge in the UAE during the IPL 2020 playoffs. “I do not think we are feeling any rustiness, we are very excited. It was a long break for us, sometimes things are not under your control, but we are very excited and I hope we all will have a great tournament,” Harmanpreet Kaur said on Friday (March 5).

“Before this series, we got four-five days to set our combination. We had open nets, we tried some combinations. Before the first game, we will fix what needs to be fixed. We will understand what to do with our batting and how to set our playing XI. There are some fresh faces in the team, but I am sure before the first ODI, we will know our playing XI,” she further added.

Meanwhile, the big-hitter is all set to play her 100th ODI when she will take the field on Sunday. So far, she has scored 2372 runs which came at an average of 34.88, including three centuries with a career-best score of unbeaten 171 against Australia in the semi-final of the 2017 ICC Cricket World Cup.

“To tell you the truth I wasn’t even aware that I was playing my 100th game. I am not only excited to play this landmark game but also happy to be finally playing international cricket,” Harmanpreet Kaur again shared.

“If I talk, as a person, I have learnt a lot. I have seen many ups and downs. When I was in a good frame of mind, I was playing good cricket. Sometimes my form was here and there, during that phase, I learnt a lot. I hope, I will be able to share my experience that I have gained with all of my teammates. I hope my experience will help the youngsters to understand how to treat downfall,” she expressed.

However, more than their return in action, the squad announcement created the hype where six new faces have been added. With much surprise, three key players have been droppedShikha Pandey, Ekta Bisht and Taniya Bhatia. Since her debut, Pandey has been playing quite consistently and in 52 games, she has picked up 73 wickets at an average of 21.06 and an economy rate of 3.94 as well.

But the swashbuckling middle-order batter confirmed that the team management didn’t drop the pace spearhead Shikha Pandey instead she was given rest for the home series. With this, selectors will see how new faces do at home soil.

“I know it was a tough call, sometimes, you need to give chance to other players. She is not dropped…sometimes you need to take chances, after this tournament we will be able to settle our combination as we have a lot of cricket coming up in next 2-3 years,” Harmanpreet Kaur concluded.

ODI Squad: Mithali Raj (Captain), Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Punam Raut, Priya Punia, Yastika Bhatia, Harmanpreet Kaur (vice-captain), Dayalan Hemalatha, Deepti Sharma, Sushma Verma (wicket-keeper), Swetha Verma (wicket-keeper), Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami, Mansi Joshi, Poonam Yadav, Challuru Prathyusha, Monica Patel

T20I Squad: 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

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