After months of inaction, the Indian women will be eager to give their best against South Africa in the ODI series starting at the Atal Behari Vajpayee Ekana Stadium here from Sunday.
Captain Mithali Raj said there was a “positive mood” in the camp and assured that all the players, young ones and the “core”, will get a fair chance to get into their groove and strike a rhythm. “It is a very important series. As a team we need to get the momentum right. Hope we can come together as a team,” said Mithali, on the eve of the series.
Saying that everybody had found a way to train, — even during the pandemic — Mithali said that the team had had a good work out for four days at the venue, including one session at the centre.
South Africa may be better prepared having played Pakistan earlier, but Mithali said that the Indian team was a “confident unit” and that the players were “not rusty”. “We are excited to give our best. It is good to start playing some cricket,” she said.
On the personal front, Mithali said that she was “looking forward to getting more runs”, and continue from where she had left off against the West Indies in 2019. When queried about the positive influence of coach W.V. Raman, Mithali said that he had a fine equation with all players, the youngsters and the seniors.
“There is a very positive environment in the dressing room which reflects in the team’s performance,” said Mithali.
The non-inclusion of Shafali Verma may have been a point to ponder, but Mithali said that one would “see her soon.”
With the massive stadium offering 10% of tickets for the public, it will be interesting to see the enthusiasm of the people to follow women’s cricket, at a time when the Indian men’s team is going full blast against England.
Even though the focus is on the best preparation for the World Cup next year, it will be important for the Indian team to make the series lively.
The teams (from):
India: Mithali Raj (Capt.), Harmanpreet Kaur (vice-capt.), Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Punam Raut, Priya Punia, Yastika Bhatia, D. Hemalatha, Deepti Sharma, Sushma Verma (wk), Swetha Verma (wk), Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami, Mansi Joshi, Poonam Yadav, C. Prathyusha, and Monica Patel.
South Africa: Sune Luus (Capt.), Ayabonga Khaka, Shabnim Ismail, Laura Wolvaardt, Trisha Chetty, Sinalo Jafta, Tasmin Britz, Marizanne Kapp, Nondumiso Shangase, Lizelle Lee, Anneke Bosch, Faye Tunnicliffe, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Mignon du Preez, Nadine de Klerk, Lara Goodall, and Tumi Sekhukhune.
The schedule: ODIs: March 7, 9, 12, 14 and 17. All matches start at 9 a.m.