A Brief Starter
Hello peeps! First up, we owe you an apology for the delay in the newsletter. However, as we promised in the previous issue, we are here right after the series between Pakistan and South Africa. Things are getting picked up in the world of women’s cricket with back-to-back series lined-up in the coming months.
The international fixtures for Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Australia, New Zealand, and England are already out, and we are excited to bring you all the coverage. Meanwhile, we have seen quite a few exhilarating performances in the Super Smash and the Women’s National Cricket League tournaments already.
If there is something that we do not know for certain is the day on which India will return to action. The Indian men’s team is playing their fourth series since the Women’s T20 Challenge got over in November. On the other hand, their female counterparts are travelling across cities to play invitation tournaments, as the schedules for the domestic and international calendar are yet to be confirmed.
While we saw some big names participate in the Falcons T20 Tournament at the start of the month, the trend continues as various Indian internationals, and domestic stars are playing invitation tournaments to keep themselves match fit if and when the domestic season begins. Read all about the tournaments that have happened so far, here in this report by Kaushiik Paul.
Though the dates are yet to come, we are hearing gospels about the Indian returning to the field from time to time. That and all the other updates from the women’s cricket world awaits you.
The Main Course: Loooong wait to end soon
As I write this, it has been 334 days since the Indian team stepped into the cricket field. After multiple announcements and cancellations, reports are coming that South Africa would be touring India in March 2021 for five ODIs and three T20Is. All seven matches ideally could happen at the same venue in a bio-secure environment.
If and when it happens, it would be the first international appearance for the stalwarts like Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami since November 2019 when they played in ODIs against West Indies. With the ODI World Cup looming, the Indian contingent would want to play as many matches as possible going into the global tournament.
Both Mithali and Goswami have expressed their desire to do well in the upcoming tournament as it would be their last World Cup appearance. It would not be easy for them if they play as little as they have in the last couple of years. Let us all hope that the series against South Africa is the start of something that helps them have a better chance for a fairy tale finish at the World Cup.
Domestic season back on track
Just like the international team, Indian domestic players, too, have been waiting to get back on the field. The good news is that BCCI has confirmed that the Senior One-Day tournament is likely to begin at the end of February. It has been announced that the tournament will happen simultaneously along with the men's Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Apart from the confirmation of the tournament, there is no update so far regarding the format, fixtures, venues and other whereabouts. Quite a few senior players, who are on the fringes for the national team selection would be keeping an eye on the upcoming season as it is their best chance to fight their way back into the Indian team.
Players like Vanitha VR, Punam Raut and MD Thirushkamini were in good form last season for their respective teams before the pandemic struck. Thirushkamini, who participated in the Falcons T20 Tournament, talked about the adjustments she had to make to play in the shorter formats.
Clinical South Africa dominate Pakistan in bi-laterals
It was always going to be a challenge for Pakistan to beat South Africa in South Africa. They competed hard in almost every match, especially in the bowling department. Throughout the tour, there were moments when they had put South Africa under pressure. However, every time the home team had a player to bail them out.
If it was Lizelle Lee on one day, Marizanne Kapp did it on the other. When they both failed, Tazmin Brits stood up for the team. Laura Wolvaardt was consistent as always. The experienced campaigners came through for South Africa whenever required, something that Pakistan missed. In the absence of Bismah Maroof, a lot was expected of Javeria Khan, and she could not deliver until the final T20I.
Despite losing the ODI series 0-3 and T20I series 1-2, Pakistan had their moments. The tour was much closer than what the scoreline suggests. If you want to know more, read what Shajin Mohanan had to say about the ODI series on “Not a series review”.
Your Nuggets for the day:
- South African players dominated the series of signings for The Hundred. While Mignon du Preez and Lizelle Lee were re-signed by Manchester Originals, Dane van Niekerk is all set to play for the Oval Invincibles. Scotland skipper Kathryn Bryce was signed by Trent Rockets, and New Zealand allrounder Amelia Kerr will be representing Southern Brave.
- The latest update from the ongoing Super Smash T20 is that the top three finalists are confirmed. Wellington Blaze was the first to qualify followed by Canterbury Magicians and Auckland Hearts. With one more round of matches left, who will face who in the eliminator and in the final is yet to be confirmed.
- Though the results did not go Pakistan’s way in the South Africa series, their cricketing adventure in the African continent has not come to an end. They will be travelling to Zimbabwe for three one-dayers and two T20Is before returning home. Zimbabwe coach Adam Chifo has said that this series will provide the much-needed game time as they return to international cricket after 20 months.
- In the newly-announced Player of the Month honours, ICC has nominated Marizanne Kapp, Shabnim Ismail and Diana Baig for their performances in the bilateral series. While Ismail was the difference between the two sides, Diana Baig was one of the biggest positives for Pakistan in this tour. The two seamers fought tooth and nail to give their team the best chance to win. Meanwhile, owing to her performances in the ODI series, Laura Wolvaardt moved up to seventh place in the ICC ODI rankings.
Did You Know?
Tazmin Brits was back at the top, opening the batting for South Africa in the T20I series against Pakistan. After seeing through a tricky chase in the first match with an unbeaten 54-ball 52, Brits showed her class in the second T20I, when the hosts were under the pump. They were grappling at 43 for 2, halfway through the innings. Brits held fort at one end and helped them get past the 130-run mark. In doing so, she put them in a strong position. She was the player of the match on both occasions.
Though she might have to handover the spot to Dane van Niekerk when the captain comes back, Brits showed what she is capable of. Did you know that she was a gold-medallist in the 2007 World Youth Athletics Championships in javelin? Read this piece by Sudarshanan S, where her mother talks about how Brit’s journey turned towards cricket.
Through the lens
Shabnim Ismail was the leading wicket-taker in the three-match T20I series against Pakistan. In the ODI series, too, she was one of the significant reasons behind the success of the South African team. Over the years, she has proved time and again as a stand-out performer. Ismail's performance in the Pakistan series saw her move to second place in the ICC T20I rankings. Here, I try to explore what makes her relentless and why Ismail is the only one who exhibits that quality among her contemporaries.
Some Dessert to sign off
- The United States Cricket has announced their probable squads for the women’s national and the women’s U-19 camps as they have a tight schedule in 2021. With the World Cup qualifiers and T20 World Cup Americas Qualifiers lined up, they have selected 28 players for the national camp and 24 for the U-19 camp.
- South Africa Emerging team is all set to tour Bangladesh in April 2021. The series will mark the return of Bangladesh to international cricket as they will play five 50-over matches against the touring side.
- New Zealand Cricket has selected 18 players to form their first-ever U-19 side. They will play three 40-over games against New Zealand Police and in three 50-over matches against New Zealand Provincial XI over the next three months.
- Meanwhile, France have announced their 18-member squad that will prepare together throughout the year for the 2023 T20 World Cup Europe Qualifier in Scotland, which will mark their debut in an ICC event.
That's it for this fortnight. Hopefully, we can give you the dates for the fixtures of the Indian team and a lot more. Until then, see ya!