Indian women's team's only test match against South Africa, eyes on debutants

Indian women's team's only test match against South Africa, eyes on debutants

The Indian women's cricket team will play a one-off Test against South Africa in Chennai from Friday, with the focus being on young talent, especially debutants. The two teams last faced each other in a five-day match a decade ago.

Since Test cricket is not a regular affair for women, five players from the Indian team could get a chance to debut in the longer format as they have established themselves and proved their mettle in limited-overs cricket.

Moreover, India had clean swept the previous ODI series against the same team by 3-0, so the momentum is certainly in the favour of the hosts although it will be a different format altogether.

The likes of Uma Chhetri, Priya Punia, Sayeka Ishak, Arundhati Reddy and Shabnam Shakeel will be the ones to watch out for as they prepare for their Test debut.

India last played a red-ball match in December 2023, their first Test match in two years.

Playing consecutive home Tests against England and Australia (one each), the hosts have been successful on both occasions. The Indians last played a Test match against South Africa in 2014 in Mysore, which they won by a big margin of an innings and 34 runs.

Although the focus for Indian women has generally been on white-ball cricket, head coach Amol Majumdar has mentioned that there will be more red-ball cricket going forward.

He said that the Women's Test Championship will further increase the importance of bilateral Test matches.

He had said on Wednesday, “Organising a Women's Test Championship is not a bad idea, we can consider it. But this decision has to be taken by the boards (BCCI and ICC). If this happens then it will be better for the game.”

Harmanpreet Kaur will lead the side with five Test caps, while vice-captain Smriti Mandhana is the most experienced, having played one Test more than her captain.

Both Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues were in good form against England and Australia. They will once again prepare themselves to perform well with the bat against South Africa.

Shafali Verma and Deepti Sharma will also be expected to perform well as they are currently the team's second and third-highest run-scorers respectively in this format.

In the bowling department, Deepti Sharma and Pooja Vastrakar were lethal bowlers who gave a tough fight to England and Australia in December.

Moreover, Sneh Rana's off-break deliveries can also prove to be a nightmare for the Proteas, especially on the Chennai pitch, which is traditionally considered to be helpful for spinners.

As far as South Africa is concerned, the women's team has played just one Test match in two years, which it played against Australia in Perth this February, which Australia won easily.

Even the South African team has five names making their Test debut.

However, the Laura Wolvaardt-led side will rely heavily on all-rounders Sune Luus and Delmi Tucker as well as Tazmin Brits.

With the ball, Masabata Klaas and Anneke Bosch are their top wicket-takers, while spinner Nonkululeko Mlaba could be difficult to face on this track.

Chepauk has hosted only one women's Test so far, which took place in 1976 when India drew the match with the West Indies.

However, Majumdar said that the team is aware of the demands here and will play accordingly.


India: Harmanpreet Kaur (captain), Smriti Mandhana (vice-captain), Jemimah Rodrigues, Priya Punia, Shefali Verma, Shubha Satish, Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Meghna Singh, Richa Ghosh (wicket-keeper), Uma Chhetri (wicket-keeper), Sneha Rana, Saiqa Ishak, Rajeshwari Gaekwad, Arundhati Reddy and Renuka Thakur Singh.

South Africa: Laura Wolvaardt (captain), Anneke Bosch, Tazmin Brits, Nadine de Klerk, Annerie Derksen, Mieke de Ridder (wicketkeeper), Sinalo Jafta (wicketkeeper), Marizanne Kapp, Masabata Klaas, Sune Luus, Elise-Mari Marz, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Tumi Sekhukune, Nondumiso Shangase and Delmi Tucker.

Match starts: 9.30 am (IST)

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