India, SA seek white-ball fine-tuning

Last Updated : 15 June 2024, 17:20 IST

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Bengaluru: India will host South Africa in the first of three women’s One Day Internationals here on Sunday to kick off a three-week long all-format tour.

While the T20 World Cup, to be held in Bangladesh this October, looms large on the agendas of both teams, the ODI series presents differing goals.

India have been blowing hot and cold in ODIs off late. After comfortable series wins over Sri Lanka and England, they tied a heated series against Bangladesh before being swept aside 3-0 by Australia at home.

More recently, India whitewashed Bangladesh 5-0 in an away T20I series and will be keen to carry forward their bubbling momentum.

The bowlers played starring roles in that rout, but the batters seemed off-colour. The surface at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium is conducive for stroke-making and will aid the likes of Shafali Varma and Smriti Mandhana in their quest to rediscover form.

Jemimah Rodrigues, who sat out the Bangladesh T20I series with a back niggle, and pacer Pooja Vastrakar are returning from injuries and could be eased back into the set-up.

It is prudent to note that India will be hosting the ODI World Cup next year, and the South Africa series provides the perfect opportunity for the management to instill their objectives and for the players to gain clarity over their roles.

With Yastika Bhatia injured, opener Shafali Varma gets a vital opportunity to rediscover her rhythm in ODIs. Richa Ghosh could continue at number three, with Jemimah, skipper Harmanpreet Kaur and Deepti Sharma to follow.

Pacers Renuka Singh Thakur, Pooja Vastrakar and Arundhati Reddy can all extract swing and bounce to trouble any top-order.

Local hero Shreyanka Patil, along with RCB team-mate Asha Sobhana were in scintillating form throughout the Women’s Premier League and bowled well in tandem during the Bengaluru leg. Fellow spinners Radha Yadav and Saika Ishaque add variety to India’s ranks.

For South Africa, the series poses an opportunity to win Women’s ODI Championship points and solidify their claim for automatic qualification to the World Cup. 

South Africa too have been inconsistent off late in ODIs. After a rain-hampered series defeat to Australia (2-1), they drew with Sri Lanka 1-1 after losing the T20Is 1-2.

With a revamped back-room staff, the side from the Rainbow Nation welcomed back Tazmin Brits from a long-term injury against the Lankans, and the 33-year-old immediately found her stride with a century in the first ODI.

However, vice-captain Chloe Tyron misses out with a recurring back injury.

Captain Laura Wolvaardt, the second-highest run-scorer in ODIs in 2024, has been in sparkling form and has notched up three centuries and one half-century in her last five innings.

Marizanne Kapp and Nadine de Klerk add substantial experience to South Africa’s ranks, while Ayabonga Khaka’s knack for taking big wickets at crucial times will hold them in good stead.

The last time the two sides met in an ODI, it proved to be a final ball thriller in the World Cup as South Africa ended India’s campaign.

Since then, stalwarts Mithali Raj and Mignon du Preez might have made way for younger stars, but expect a crackling encounter at the Chinnaswamy as a rivalry gets reignited.  

Published 15 June 2024, 17:20 IST

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