India and South Africa’s preparations with respect to the T20 World Cup were set to begin with the ongoing bilateral series. The five-match series was to provide the sides with an idea about the team combinations and back-up players.
For South Africa, who are here without the captain Dane van Niekerk and ace allrounder Marizanne Kapp (missing for the T20Is), it was to act as an opportunity to look at the newer players and how they shape up in the international circuit. Performers in the Women’s T20 Super League (domestic T20 competition in South Africa) like Nonkululeku Mlaba were pushed into the big stage to check how they adjusted to the high pressure environment.
For India, it was about looking at an opener to partner Smriti Mandhana at the top. They just have got a couple of looks at Shafali Verma. Apart from that the lower-middle order is still to be tested. Veda Krishnamurthy seems to be earmarked as one to bat at no.6 and finish games for the side. Even after the fourth T20I on Tuesday (October 1), she was seen batting. The pace bowling department is also something the team is keeping an eye on.
In such scenarios, when two games get rained out, it helps no-one – neither the teams who are here with a plan and purpose, nor the spectators who flock into the Lalbhai Contractor Stadium in Surat to catch a glimpse of their favourite cricketers play. The interest levels in women’s cricket have spiked after the two World Cups – the 50-over tournament in 2017 and the World T20 in 2018 – and the packed stands are testimony to the fact.
JUST IN: India and South Africa to play another T20I on October 3, 2019, apart from the match on October 4.
This is because of the fact that two matches have been washed out so far. The match will begin at 7PM IST (1:30PM GMT).#INDvSA
— Women’s CricZone (@WomensCricZone) October 2, 2019
Keeping these things in mind and also the improved weather forecast for the next two days, another T20I – technically the fifth one – will be played on Thursday (October 3). After the move to bring the game to a new city in Surat, this move by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) needs to be lauded.
Like wildfire, the news of an additional game has spread quickly. In the age of social media, spreading such updates isn’t a task. Expect another full house on Thursday. Given both teams now play back-to-back matches – the final T20I is as per schedule on Friday (October 4) – it gives them a better opportunity to check how their players adapt to hectic situations.
And then, technically, the series is still not sealed. South Africa have a chance to square it. The path to that is by putting an improved performance on Thursday evening. Will they do it? Or will we have one-way traffic again?
India: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana, Shikha Pandey, Poonam Yadav, Veda Krishnamurthy, Anuja Patil, Deepti Sharma, Mansi Joshi, Jemimah Rodrigues, Pooja Vastrakar, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Radha Yadav, Harleen Deol, Arundhati Reddy, Shafali Verma
South Africa: Mignon du Preez, Shabnim Ismail, Sune Luus (c), Lizelle Lee, Ayabonga Khaka, Lara Goodall, Laura Wolvaardt, Sinalo Jafta (wk), Anne Bosch, Nadine de Klerk, Tazmin Brits, Tumi Sekhukhune, Nondumiso Shangase, Nonkululeko Mlaba