The long break of the India women’s cricket team is all set to finally end. The All-India Women’s Selection Committee has picked the squads for India Women’s upcoming ODI and T20I series against South Africa Women.

Pratyusha Challaru, Monika Patel, Simran Dil Bahadur, Yastika Bhatia, Ayushi Soni and Swetha Verma (wicket-keeper) are the new faces in India’s 22-member squad for their series against South Africa.

Experienced pros Ekta Bisht, Anuja Patil, Veda Krishnamurthy, Taniya Bhatia and Shikha Pandey have all been dropped.

India vs South Africa: From Shikha Pandey to Shafali Verma, talking points from ODI and T20I squads

The Neetu David-led selection committee raised a few eyebrows with their decisions. On Sunday, Sportstar reported that the idea was test the bench strength.

“The selection committee thought it was the best time to test the bench strength since it was a home series. There is still some time left for the World Cup, so this series will help them get a fair idea where things stand,” a BCCI source told the magazine.

Rookie keeper-batsman Shwetha Verma, along with the seasoned Sushma Verma, are the two keepers in both formats with Taniya Bhatia missing out. Other new faces include C Prathyusha, Monica Patel (both squads), Simran Dil Bahadur and Ayushi Soni (T20Is) as well as Swetha Verma and Yastika Bhatia (ODIs).

The series which will begin on March 7 will comprise of five ODIs and three T20Is and will be played at Lucknow’s Bharat Ratna Shree Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana International Stadium.

Harmanpreet Kaur and Co last played international cricket in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final on March 8, 2020. There was the Women’s T20 Challenge in Sharjah at the business end of the IPL, when four teams played a brief exhibition event.

India Women’s squad for ODI series: Mithali Raj (Captain), Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Punam Raut, Priya Punia, Yastika Bhatia, Harmanpreet Kaur (vice-captain), D. Hemalatha, Deepti Sharma, Sushma Verma (wicket-keeper), Swetha Verma (wicket-keeper), Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami, Mansi Joshi, Poonam Yadav, C. Prathyusha, Monica Patel

India Women’s T20I squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (Captain), Smriti Mandhana (vice-captain), Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Richa Ghosh, Harleen Deol, Sushma Verma (wicket-keeper), Nuzhat Parveen (wicket-keeper), Ayushi Soni, Arundhati Reddy, Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Mansi Joshi, Monica Patel, C. Prathyusha, Simran Dil Bahadur

South Africa Women’s Tour of India, 2021

No. Date Match Venue
1 7th March 1st ODI Lucknow
2 9th March 2nd ODI Lucknow
3 12th March 3rd ODI Lucknow
4 14th March 4th ODI Lucknow
5 17th March 5th ODI Lucknow
1 20th March 1st T20I Lucknow
2 21st March 2nd T20I Lucknow
3 23rd March 3rd T20I Lucknow