India vs South Africa women's series: Harmanpreet excited for milestone match

Harmanpreet Kaur will feature in her 100th ODI when India eves take on South Africa in the series-opening fixture at the Ekana Stadium in Lucknow on Sunday.

Harmanpreet Kaur during a training session at the Ekana Stadium in Lucknow.   -  Special Arrangement

Harmanpreet Kaur will feature in her 100 ODI when the India women’s team takes on South Africa in the series-opening fixture at the Ekana Stadium in Lucknow on Sunday. And the star batter is excited about her milestone fixture.

“I am very excited because we will be playing international cricket after a long time and also it’s my 100th ODI. Both the things will give me a lot of energy and I am sure I can do well,” Harmanpreet said in media interaction on Friday.

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Having started playing international cricket in 2009, Harmanpreet has come a long way. From being one of the most talked about batswomen to leading the team in the T20Is - it has been an incredible success story for the 31-year-old.

“As a person, I have learnt a lot in these years. I have seen ups and downs - there have been times when I have played good cricket in the right frame of mind, sometimes the form has been a bit here and there. I want to share my experiences with the team-mates, so that even when they face a dip in form, they can bounce back too.”

As the team gears up for its first international assignment after a year-long break, Harmanpreet is confident of success.

“We are not feeling any rustiness and we are very excited to be back. It has been a long break for us, but sometimes things are not in your control. I hope we will have a good tournament,” she said.

READ: India to test bench strength in home series against South Africa

Ahead of the tournament, the national selectors had left out seasoned campaigner Shikha Pandey from the side and zeroed in on a few rookie talents. Harmanpreet justified the move, saying that it is important to test the bench strength.

“It was a very tough call. Sometimes, you need to give chances to other players as well. She (Shikha) is not dropped, we wanted to try out a few players. I know we are playing after a long time - we would have wanted to go with the same combination - but at the same time, we did not play too much cricket so it was important to take some chances and give opportunity to other players,” she said.

“After this series, I think we will be able to set our combination. In the next two-three years, we'll have a lot of cricket coming up, and that’s why we are giving chances to few other players."

After completing the mandatory quarantine period, the Indian team had training sessions in Lucknow and they did try out a few combinations in a bid to get things in order ahead of the series opener. “We will make sure that we are 100 per cent ready coming into the first match,” Harmanpreet asserted.

While this will be India’s first assignment in a year, South Africa comes into the tour on the back of a successful home series against Pakistan. And Harmanpreet expects some high-scoring matches at the Ekana.

“The pitch looks very good, I hope there will be high-scoring games and it will be good for the game.”