The India’s Women squad will finally get to shake off the rust after 12 months of no international cricket and start their ODI World Cup series with the five-match series against South Africa starting in Lucknow on Sunday. While South Africans come into the series straight from their home rubber against Pakistan a month ago, the Indians keep going played on March 8,2020 when they lost to Australia in the T20 World Cup last.
The quarantine protocol in COVID times have allowed just two days of nets to both the squads, making it harder for the players to be at their best from the word go.
It can be safely said that the Indians have fallen behind in their World Cup preparation compared to the likes of England, New Zealand and Australia who have played all the more regularly in the midst of the pandemic.
The new selection committee has come in with its own vision and picked six uncapped players for the eight match contest additionally three T20s, leaving out senior players like Shikha Pandey, Taniya Bhatia and Veda Krishnamurthy. The non-selection of T20 star Shafali Verma for the ODIs has also raised a few eyebrows.
Harmanpreet Kaur, who is Mithila Raj’s deputy ODIs and T20 captain, on Sunday said that, “It was a long break but sometimes things are not under your control, now we are getting to play cricket and we have to ensure we use this time and make our best combination for the upcoming tournaments.”
Although the players did not get much time over the past 1 year, they made sure that their fitness remained unaffected. Some players including Jemimah Rodrigues and Deepti Sharma used the free time to play in club tournaments as they did not know when the next India assignment would come.
With the ODI World Cup planned for New Zealand ahead of schedule one year from now, the group needs to explore options in the middle-order and the pace department.
South Africa who recently beat Pakistan 3-0 will miss the services of their regular skipper captain Dane Van Niekerk and all-rounder Chloe Tyron for the India visit. Sune Luus will lead the side in Nikerk’s absence.
The South Africa got very less time to get used to the conditions but they go into the series with a lot more match time than the shots.