It isn’t always that India Women’s side gets to play a great deal of cricket with their South African counterparts. Isn’t it? The last time that the two faced one other was already nearly half a year ago, in the illustrious 2017 World Cup.
But then, not every year is like 2018- a year, where it clearly seems, promoting more exciting cricketing ties, especially bi-lateral contests, seems to be topping the agenda of the ICC.
While it could be said that a lot of cricket in a year which has only begun augurs well for preparing international sides for the much-anticipated ICC Women’s World T20 2018. But in hindsight, where the development of Women’s game and fans stand- cricket in any format, destination or stage is a welcome push in the right direction.
But to give more context to the upcoming India versus South Africa series, Mithali Raj will be leading her troops to a South African safari to contest in a 3 ODI match series. While India would’ve played a fair bit of Cricket in their sub-continental conditions by the time their South African series comes about in February, having hit the turf early this year in the Challenger trophy, Dane Van Niekerk‘s squad would be keen to bring out their A game against an enlistment of Indian talents that comprises of Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur, Jhulan Goswami, Shikha Pandey and others.
The 3 match ODI series, which will also be followed by a 5-match T20 series- included to give either side sufficient practice for the coveted T20 tournament later this year- fans would seize maximum pleasure from seeing some spectacular battles unfold in Proteas-land. Unlike their male counterparts who were left devoid of any match practice whatsoever to acclimatize to the Protean conditions, Mithali Raj’s team are expected to have the most from a practice game on February 2.
It will be exciting to see what transpires when a Mithali Raj vs Andrie Styen, Harmanpreet Kaur vs Laura Wolvaardt and Jhulan Goswami vs Dane Van Niekerk battle for supremacy. While India would yield from the presence of its experienced, dependable old-guards in the form of Mithali and Jhulan and from the flair and exuberance of a Smriti and Harmanpreet, it might not be a walk in the park to counter the challenge posed by high quality Protean bowling that will include the cunning and guile of captain, Dane Van Niekerk.
While many would remember the fireworks hurled from the bat of Kaur in the last world cup, whose sensational 171 blunted Australia, it will also serve public memory well to remember that the batswoman who topped batting charts for best average was a Protean; opener Laura Wolvaardt, who compiled four fifties from seven innings. One can also expect India to field fiery 17-year-old smashing batswoman Jemimah Rodrigues in any of its games to try out young potential.
That being said, one of the big plusses that India bring to the forefront is newly capped Jemimah Rodrigues. Having been in scintillating form in her last domestic season, Jemimah catapulted to national headlines following her 163-ball 202, an attacking knock for Maharashtra that brought down Saurashtra almost single-handedly. With age, form, and passion being one her side Mithali Raj’s side would be one contending with the wisdom of experience and the brute force of youth.
While one one would expect complacency to eschew the Indian line up as they face one of the most potent bowling attacks in South Africa- featuring Marizanne Kapp, Dane Van Niekerk and, Sune Luus– Mithali’s side would have to do well to handle a unit that will test their technique having plenty of both: clever variations and zing in swing.
Expected playing eleven from either sides are as follows:
Dane Van Niekerk, Sune Luus, Mignon Du Preez, Trisha Chetty, Marizanne Kapp, Laura Wolvaardt, Moseline Daniels, Lizelle Lee, Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka and, Odine Kirsten
Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur, Jhulan Goswami, Smriti Mandhana, Ekta Bisht, Sushma Verma, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Shikha Pandey, Veda Krishnamurthy, Punam Raut and, Mona Meshram