In their previous two series, India had lost only one game in 6 matches. But after hurt by rain and Lizelle Lee’s unbeaten 132, India will look to salvage their pride. After having started with a defeat, India bounced back quite well in the second ODI against South Africa where they won by 9 wickets. But despite their improved batting performances, Lee stole the show in the 3rd ODI.

As Mithali Raj eyeing to become the first-ever female cricketer to reach 7000 ODI runs and India will certainly look forward to level the series and gift her captain the record the highest win as a captain.

However, in all three matches, the side won the game chasing. The opening will be a concern for India. India has sent Jemimah Rodrigues to open the batting and that didn’t click at all. On the other hand, Punam Raut has hit two back to back half-centuries in the last two matches. So India can either sent her to open with Smriti Mandhana or can give Priya Punia a chance.

India ODI side is quite experienced and the middle order is finding the grove with each match. But the concern remains with the dot ball percentage and India’s inability to accelerate after Harmanpreet Kaur’s wicket. In the last 14 games, India has scored more than 250 only twice. So this will remain an area of concern in their preparation for the World Cup.

Mithali Raj, the Indian captain, in the post-match press conference, opened up about their total. She said they need to score around the 270-run mark. But it didn’t happen as over-dependence on the openers and on Harmanpreet Kaur to give the late boost somehow failed to work.

“We definitely need to have batters playing the last 10 overs because obviously the sort of game that a batter has and can improve it to the optimum, the lower or tail-ender may not, so it is important that we have the batters playing the last 10 overs and a settled batter will always be very very helpful in those times, but yes we have players like Harman (Harmanpreet Kaur) and Deepti (Sharma) and it is just a matter of few innings that they will come good in those 10 overs,” Mithali Raj said.

“We are looking at competing with the best – the Australia or England side – we are looking at 270-plus. But having said that, I think this was our third game after a long gap and we are one of those countries that have started cricket quite late whereas the other teams already played a couple of series,” she added.

Meanwhile, the ace seamer Jhulan Goswami has been in great form. While she was the sole wicket-taker in the first ODI for India’s losing cause, she finished with 4/42 in the second. Her first spell of 6-1-9-1 in the third ODI is also noteworthy. Alongside her, Mansi Joshi (2/23) too has been doing good along with spin trio – Deepti Sharma, Poonam Yadav and Rajeshwari Gayakwad (3/37). Mithali would expect more from her spinners in the middle overs, against this inexperienced middle order of South Africa.

On the other hand, South Africa openers Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt started where they left in their previous series against Pakistan in the 1st ODI. However, they failed to replicate that in the second. Both of them in good touch in this series as well.

After adding a record partnership in the first match, Lizelle Lee’s 132* won them the game in the third. Middle-order remains an area of concern. Mignon du Preez is yet to find a big score and so is Sune Luss. In absence of players like Dane van Niekerk or Chloe Tryon, youngsters like Lara Goodall or Anne Bosch need to play consistently to place their candidature for the world cup team.

While their batting department failed, their bowlers, especially the pace trio – Marizanne Kapp, Shabnim Ismail and Ayabonga Khaka. Their consistent pace attack troubled India a lot in the first game and they wouldn’t bring any change to the squad for sure.

Squads:

India: Mithali Raj (Captain), Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Punam Raut, Priya Punia, Yastika Bhatia, Harmanpreet Kaur, D Hemalatha, Deepti Sharma, Sushma Verma, Swetha Verma, Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami, Mansi Joshi, Poonam Yadav, C Prathyusha, Monica Patel

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

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