After having a defeat in the ODI series 1-4, India lost in their first T20I against South Africa in Lucknow. The host played without their captain Harmanpreet Kaur, who had sustained a hip-flexor injury. A relatively new Indian squad, under the leadership of Smriti Mandhana, failed to leave a mark.

India Team were playing after a year as they last played in the international cricket on March 8, 2020, in the final of ICC T20 World Cup final. On the other hand, South Africa had a successful series at home against Pakistan. As far as the Indian squad were concerned, a few of them were a part of the ODI squad whereas the rest took the field after a long time.

Stand-in captain Smriti Mandhana couldn’t contribute much whereas the young Shafali Verma started on a good note but failed to accelerate at her usual pace. The host played a gamble with Harleen Deol by promoting her at No. 3. She took the time to set her eyes in but when she got settled in the middle, it became easy for her to take on the opponent bowlers.

Deol eventually brought up her maiden half-century and alongside Jemimah Rodrigues, who was earlier struggling to score, added 60 runs as well. While India mostly depends on their openers to score quick runs, in the beginning, they lacked that in the first game. Although Deol and Rodrigues’ form will give them a shy of relief, Harmanpreet Kaur’s absence in the middle-order cost them badly as the team lacked a power hitter.

Both Deepti Sharma and Richa Ghosh failed to get going in front of a confident bowling attack of South Africa. However, if Kaur joins the team in the second, it will help them as well.

On the other hand, South Africa were way ahead of the game in all three departments. While Shabnim Ismail’s deadly pace didn’t let the batters settle in the middle, Nonkululeko Mlaba and Sune Luus restricted the host brilliantly in the middle overs and India could manage only 130 runs in their allotted 20 overs.

While chasing, Anneke Bosch opened with the in-form Lizelle Lee. Although Lee fell for a mere 8, Bosch played the sheet anchor’s role. Having no experience before to face Indian spinner, she has really been impressive in the entire series. And, once again she proved why she is one of the exciting talents of the South Africa line-up.

With Luss, her partnership of 90 runs helped South Africa win the game and take a lead of 1-0 as well. Not only with the bat but she starred with the ball too when she removed both Harleen Deol and Jemimah Rodrigues in the same over. The visitors will bank on her form in the second game too.

While Marizanne Kapp was rested in the first game, she is expected to return for the second one. And, with her inclusion, South Africa will look formidable too. On the other hand, the inexperience Indian squad would love to bounce back in the second game to level the series as well.

The second match between India and South Africa will take place in Lucknow on March 21.

Squad:

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

South Africa: Sune Luus (C), 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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