India Vs South Africa T20I: The first game of the three-match T20I series between India Women and South Africa Women kickstarts on March 20 at Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow. Captain of India’s T20 women’s cricket team, Harmanpreet Kaur has opted out of the series opener on Saturday citing an injury. Instead, Smriti Mandhana will lead the team today
The T20 series follows India’s disappointing 4-1 loss in the ODI series against South Africa on Wednesday. This is also the team’s first appearance in the format since the T20 World Cup final on March 8 last year.
Kaur is sitting out in the game after suffering a hip-flexor injury in the fifth and final ODI on Wednesday. She had managed to put together a half-century stand with Mithali Raj before retiring out in the 31st over and had to bow out from fielding for the rest of the game. “She [Kaur] has been ruled out of tomorrow’s match and rest of the updates on her injury will be given by the medical team and the team management,” 24-year-old Mandhana said, adding, “It will be better for them to speak about it rather than me.”
17-year-old Shafali Verma, who stayed out of the game in ODI series, and Smriti Mandhana are the players to look out for in today’s match. Last year, Verma, Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues had made it into the Top 10 T20 rankings. While Verma was the highest-ranked Indian batswoman, securing the third spot, maintaining their stellar performances Mandhana and Rodrigues respectively held seventh and ninth places in the list led by Australian Beth Mooney.
Verma held the top spot in the ICC women’s T20 International rankings after her stellar run at the T20 World Cup. She is also the only cricketer who shattered Sachin Tendulkar’s 30-year-old record. She became the second Indian after Mithali Raj to top the women’s T20 batting rankings. Verma was the third-highest scorer at the World Cup and had hit more sixes than anyone in the tournament.
India’s T20I squad:
Harmanpreet Kaur (not playing today), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Richa Ghosh, Harleen Deol, Sushma Verma (wicketkeeper), Nuzhat Parveen (wicketkeeper), Ayushi Soni, Arundhati Reddy, Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Mansi Joshi, Monica Patel, C. Prathyusha, Simran Bahadur.
Here’s the schedule of the 3-match T20I series
20th March: First WT20I – Ekana Cricket Stadium (Lucknow)
21st March: Second WT20I
24th March: Third WT20I
Feature Image Credit: ICC