INDW vs SAW: Confident host braces up for ODI test

Smriti Mandhana will miss the first match due to a toe fracture; 23-year-old Priya Punia is likely to debut.

Mithali Raj returns to the national team for the first time since announcing her retirement from T20Is.   -  AP

Having recorded a comfortable 3-1 win in the T20I leg a few days ago, India wears a confident look heading into the three-match women’s ODI series against South Africa here. The home team, however, has to deal with a big injury concern.

Elegant opening batter Smriti Mandhana is out for the first ODI — at a minimum — after suffering a toe fracture during training. The full extent of the injury and layoff period will become clear only after a full assessment is done at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.

“Smriti needs to get an MRI. She still has some swelling, which has to subside before an MRI can be done. It is difficult to put a timeline [on her possible return],” India head coach W. V. Raman said here on Tuesday.

Smriti made only 46 runs in the four T20Is earlier, but her compact top-order presence in 50-over cricket — her preferred format — will be missed. Smriti’s absence is likely to result in an ODI debut for 23-year-old Priya Punia. “Priya has scored consistently in domestic circuit. This is her chance,” captain Mithali Raj said.

Terrific ODI form

Mithali, meanwhile, wears the national jersey for the first time since announcing her retirement from T20Is. The skipper will hope to build on her terrific ODI form, which has seen her score at an average of 105.25 in her last nine knocks (dating back to April 2018).

South Africa, meanwhile, can take heart from the resounding 105-run win notched up in the fifth and final T20I. Openers Lizelle Lee (84, 47b) and Sune Luus (62, 56b) came good in great style, lifting the spirit of a struggling side. The arrival of experienced players Marizanne Kapp and Trisha Chetty to the ODI squad serves as another boost.

International women’s cricket returns to Reliance Stadium, nearly 18 months after big crowds created an exciting atmosphere for the India-Australia ODI series. Baroda Cricket Association officials are hopeful of large turnouts once again. Entry is free.

The squads
  • India: Mithali Raj (captain), Jemimah Rodrigues, Harmanpreet Kaur, Punam Raut, Deepti Sharma, Taniya Bhatia (wicketkeeper), Jhulan Goswami, Shikha Pandey, Mansi Joshi, Ekta Bisht, Poonam Yadav, D. Hemalatha, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Priya Punia.
  • South Africa: Sune Luus (captain), Tasmin Brits, Trisha Chetty, Nadine de Klerk, Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Lara Goodall, Marizanne Kapp, Lizelle Lee, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Tumi Sekhukhune, Nondumiso Shangase, Mignon du Preez, Laura Wolvaardt.