After starting their ICC Women’s Championship campaign on a positive note by beating South Africa 2-1 in the three-match ODI series, India are now gearing up to repeat the feat in five-match Twenty20 series starting Tuesday.
Harmanpreet Kaur will lead the team in the T20Is, after first taking over captaincy in the shortest format for the Asia Cup T20 in 2016. The in-form Smriti Mandhana will be the vice-captain, with Mithali Raj still part of the squad.
The first two matches will be played at Potchefstroom and East London, while the last three will be double-headers with the men’s team - played in Johannesburg, Centurion and Cape Town. Virat Kohli and team, who are currently playing the six-match ODI series, will play a three-match T20I series later.
The good news is that all five women’s matches will be shown live: the first two streamed on Cricket South Africa’s YouTube channel and the last three on television, before the men’s match. The first two matches start at 4.30 PM IST.
This is a marked change from the original plan to only broadcast the double headers with men. The first two ODIs were not shown live but the online streaming was put in place from the third match onwards by CSA.
The T20I series is in a way a preparation for the World T20 which will be held in November in the West Indies.
While India won the ODI series after convincing victories in the first two matches – winning by 88 and 178 runs – South Africa won the third by seven wickets to gain some much-needed momentum heading into the T20Is.
India have not played the shortest format in over a year, with their last T20I being a championship winning run at the Asia Cup in December 2016. However, with the good form the team showed in ODIs, it shouldn’t be very difficult for the team to switch gears.
Before leaving for South Africa, Raj had pointed out that the team was working to become better in the format. “Yes, it’s been a while playing T20 format but we as an Indian team are looking forward to the T20 games and we as a team need to work really hard in this format,” Raj had said.
Additionally, Harmanpreet Kaur and Veda Krishnamurthy are coming from the Women’s Big Bash League where both had decent outings. Playing for Hobart Hurricanes, Krishnamurthy scored 144 runs in nine innings while Sydney Thunders’ retained player Harmanpreet made 107 in seven. Krishnamurthy showed her quick-scoring abilities with a blistering 33-ball 51 followed by a 64-ball 56 in the second and third ODIs on this tour.
On the bowling front, veteran Jhulan Goswami is expected to return to the playing XI after being rested for the third ODI. In her absence, the Indian bowling attack lacked sting in the last match as Mignon du Preez scored a valiant 90* to pull off a consolation win.
Among the South African bowlers, left-arm pacer Shabnim Ismail would look to carry on her impressive form. She did the maximum damage to India in the last ODI picking up four wickets while conceding just 30 runs from her nine overs.
India’s T20 squad is further be bolstered by the inclusion of T20 specialist Anuja Patil and debutant all-rounder Radha Yadav and wicketkeeper Nuzhat Parveen. Jemimah Rodrigues, the 17-year-old from Mumbai who scored a double ton in the domestic league in the latter part of 2017, is also part of the squad.
India: Harmanpreet Kaur (captain), Smriti Mandhana (vice-captain), Mithali Raj, Veda Krishnamurthy, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Anuja Patil, Taniya Bhatia, Nuzhat Parveen Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami, Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar, Radha Yadav.
South Africa: Dane van Niekerk (captain), Marizanne Kapp, Trisha Chetty, Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Sune Luus, Odine Kirsten, Mignon du Preez, Lizelle Lee, Chloe Tryon, Nadine de Klerk, Raisibe Ntozakhe, Moseline Daniels.