After a remarkable 2-1 ODI series victory, Mithali Raj’s women will be hoping to repeat their stellar performance as the T20 leg of the South Africa tour approaches. In cramming South Africa for any kind of space for cricketing expression, India Women’s hammered their counterparts in all departments of the game, making the current series a real contest as their male contemporaries continue to roast South Africa in their own den.
With some tantalizing showings of the bat, most dominantly through Smriti Mandhana’s blade, the leftie notching up a vital third ODI ton as well as grabbing a player of the series award, the onus will be on rest of India Women’s contestants to rise to the occasion and make the maximum sound from the bat and ball as we impatiently wait for the T20 series between Dane Van Niekerk and Harmanpreet Kaur’s side to begin.
While the complete absence of any live broadcast and Smriti Mandhana’s purple patch on her maiden Protean tour occupied much of the talking points in the ODI series, it will be a lot to play for where Niekerk’s wounded, somewhat listless South African stars are concerned. The bowlers- a world-class bunch comprising of Ismail, Luus, Tryon and Niekerk herself- boast of a massive experience of 287 ODIs and close to 190 T20s combined- but leaked runs in a series where the bat dominated the bowl as their batters failed to turn a corner but with the exception of Laura Woolvardt, Lizelle Lee and Mignon Du Preez’s individual heroics on standalone occasions.
As an inspirational captain, hoping for redemption, Niekerk will be expecting her batswoman to gel a lot better than their recent showing in a series where South Africa’s efforts were akin to seeing some school grade cricket. Dropped chances, missed stumpings and too many extras- South Africa would be driven to eschew all of these as the T20 beckons a more spirited performance.
Purely on form against their competitors, South Africa haven’t exactly played too much of T20 against India to be backing any stats with losing out on a 2014 Women’s World T20 encounter against India. Contesting in cricket’s briefest format since 2007, South Africa have thus far registered only 29 T20 victories from 71 games having lost 41, with England, Pakistan and New Zealand being sides that’ve devoured the Proteas Women’s side in recent times.
This could well be an opportunity for Niekerk’s talents to stamp their authority on the game. But will it ever be easy given the kind of spectacular form that India’s spinners and seam bowlers are enjoying? It might be helpful for South Africa to remember Poonam Yadav’s spectacularly miserly figures of 7/98 collectively from 3 games and Shikha Pandey’s 4 wickets from as many matches. Given that India has also got some useful scorers in the lower order- Patil, Krishnamurthy and, Bhatia- it is up to South Africa to bring their A-game to the foray. But can a side desperately seeking for form do that? The first of the 5-match T20 series begins Tuesday, February 13, 2018.