This ancient city may not have been the first choice to host South Africa on Indian women’s return to international cricket after a year claimed by the deadly coronavirus. Thiruvananthapuram was.
But, perhaps it is only apt that India’s female cricketers landed in Lucknow, three weeks ago. For, this, in a sense, has been a homecoming for Indian women’s cricket. It was here that organised women’s cricket began in the country, nearly five decades ago.
The Women in Blue might not be too pleased with the way things have gone for them on the field, though. They were soundly beaten 4-1 in the ODI series that ended on Wednesday.
They would indeed be keen to put the disappointing series behind them when the three-match T20I series gets underway, under lights, at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Stadium on Saturday.
It will be a double-header at the weekend, with the second match scheduled for Sunday. The final game will be played on March 23.
The setback in the 50-over series notwithstanding, nobody is likely to take India lightly — least of all South Africa. Sune Luus’ women know too well that this Indian side boasts some serious match-winners, including the explosive 17-year-old opener Shafali Verma, who wasn’t part of the ODI series.
But, India is handicapped by the absence of skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, who has been ruled out of the opener owing to an injury.
Smriti Mandhana will take over the captain’s armband. The left-handed stylist will want to give her side a flying start in the company of Shafali.
India’s bowlers, especially the spinners, need to come up with a better display against a fired up South African batting line-up featuring Lizelle Lee, Mignon du Preez, Laura Wolvaardt, Lara Goodall, Luus and Marizanne Kapp.
The teams (from):
India: Smriti Mandhana (Capt.), Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Richa Ghosh, Sushma Verma, Harleen Deol, Arundhati Reddy, Nuzhat Parveen, Ayushi Soni, Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Mansi Joshi, Monica Patel, C. Prathyusha, and Simran Dil Bahadur.
South Africa: Sune Luus (Capt.), Lizelle Lee, Laura Wolvaardt, Mignon du Preez, Lara Goodall, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Shabnim Ismail, Trisha Chetty, Sinalo Jafta, Tasmin Britz, Nondumiso Shangase, Anneke Bosch, Faye Tunnicliffe, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Nadine de Klerk, and Tumi Sekhukhune.
The schedule: March 20, 21 and 23. All matches begin at 7 p.m.