India's WC preparation finally begins with home series against South Africa

The Indians have fallen behind in their World Cup preparation compared to the likes of England, New Zealand and Australia, who have played more regularly amid the pandemic.

Mithali Raj and Sune Luus will lead India and South Africa respectively as the nations clash in a five-match ODI series from March 7.   -  Getty Images

After months of inaction, the Indian women are quite eager to get off the blocks and give their best against the touring South Africa in the one-day international (ODI) series starting at the Ekana Stadium here from Saturday.

The captain of the Indian team Mithali Raj gave a hint about the positive mood of the Indian camp, and assured that all the players, young ones and the "core" will get a fair chance to get into their groove and strike 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.

READ | India vs South Africa women's series: 10 per cent fans allowed at Ekana

Saying that everybody had found a way to train as professionals, even during the pandemic, Mithali said that the team had a good work out schedule for four days at the venue, including one session at the centre, to get the feel of the match.

South Africa may be better prepared of late, having played Pakistan, 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 continuing from where she had left against the West Indies in 2019.

When queried about the positive influence of coach WV Raman, Mithali said that the seasoned professional, both as a player and coach, had a fine equation with all the players, the youngsters and the seniors.

"There is a very positive environment in the dressing room which reflects in the performance of the team", said Mithali.

The non-inclusion of Shafali Verma may have been a point to ponder, but Mithali assured 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 first ODI will begin on March 7 at 9 am. You can follow the game LIVE with us on Sportstar.

Squads

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

South Africa: Sune Luus (captain), 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, Tumi Sekhukhune.

 

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