Cricket

Rain threat looms large as India attept to draw level in Chennai

SOUTH AFRICA WOMEN’S TOUR OF INDIA 2024

South Africa lead the three-match series 1-0 © Sportzpics

After the unseasonal Chennai rains on Sunday robbed India’s in-form batting, a shot at drawing level in the ongoing T20I series against South Africa, the hosts will get another go in Tuesday’s (July 9) decider at the Chepauk. That is, if the rain gods keep their end of the bargain.

Majority of the slog overs of South Africa’s batting innings were played out amidst a steady mizzle. But the inclement weather intervened before India’s chase could get underway eventually leading to an abandonment. Neither South Africa’s bowling, which had restricted an on-song Jemimah Rodrigues-Harmanpreet Kaur pair in Game 1 for their first win on this tour, nor India’s new-look batting order could be cross-examined.

With as many as four changes to their line-up, and only Richa Ghosh’s rest being declared a forced move, it would have been interesting to see who India backed as their latest no. 3. Debuting ‘keeper Uma Chetry, an opener domestically, or Sajana Sajeevan, replacing local hero D Hemalatha, were the potential candidates, both of whom are fairly new to the India senior set-up. After a breakout WPL 2024, Hemalatha looked set to rest the no. 3 debate, in the shortest format at least, with consistent backing on the Bangladesh tour and up until now. But even though she resumed fielding and batted in India’s failed pursuit of 190 in the T20I series opener in front of a 12,000-strong home crowd, she was likely dropped in favour of Sajana, another breakout WPL finisher. Chetry, meanwhile, had a tough initiation behind the stumps, but promises quickfire starts with the bat which aligns well with India’s “aggressive approach” mantra.

After conceding 189 in the first game, despite a miserly and incisive spell from Pooja Vastrakar, India’s bowling attack put up an improved performance but again allowed the visitors to run away to 177. Deepti Sharma brought to the fore her experience, leading India’s fightback with a middle-overs spin squeeze, but in the two batting phases before and after India bled runs at more than 10 RPO with Harmanpreet ringing in changes aplenty.

The fielding lapses were minimised on Sunday, when compared to the Friday embarrassment, and could be attributed to the wet ball which became difficult to get a grip on. But together they make up 2/3rds of the areas where India have more questions than answers, one game away from Asia Cup 2024.

When: Tuesday, July 9 at 7 PM IST

Where: MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai

What to expect: The pitch has held up well for two consecutive games, and should make for another high-scoring encounter. There’s a small chance rain may play spoilsport again, delaying proceedings if not entirely washing away the series decider.

Head to head: Still 9-6 to India, with the Sunday clash rained out

Teams watch

India: Ghosh’s availability is to be decided, pending the medical team’s update. Unless Hemalatha was rested in Game 2 due to the ankle twist, the rest of the XI should get another shot.

Probable XI: Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, D Hemalatha/S Sajana, Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Jemimah Rodrigues, Richa Ghosh/Uma Chetry (wk), Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Radha Yadav, Shreyanka Patil, Arundhati Reddy

South Africa: With Laura Wolvaardt insisting South Africa will play a team as close to their World Cup starting XI, Sune Luus might still be on bench with the visitors expected to be consistent in their selection.

Probable XI: Laura Wolvaardt (c), Tazmin Brits, Marizanne Kapp, Anneke Bosch, Chloe Tryon, Nadine de Klerk, Annerie Dercksen, Eliz-Mari Marx, Sinalo Jafta (wk), Ayabonga Khaka, Nonkululeko Mlaba

Did you know?

– Jemimah Rodrigues is three away from becoming the fourth Indian to complete 2000 T20I runs

– Pooja Vastrakar is one strike away from 50 T20I wickets

– Harmanpreet Kaur needs 62 runs to overtake Meg Lanning as the all-time second highest run-getter in Women’s T20Is

© Cricbuzz

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