A three-match women’s T20 International Series between South Africa and India gets underway in Lucknow on Saturday. The history-making Proteas women are chasing back-to-back series wins against India in what has already been a successful tour on the subcontinent.
On 17 March, the Proteas beat India by five wickets in the final one-day international (ODI) to win the five-match ODI series 4-1 and rise to second in the world behind Australia in the latest International Cricket Council (ICC) Women’s ODI team rankings, displacing England, who drop down to the third place.
South Africa last won an ODI series in India in 2014.
Opening batting star Lizelle Lee displaced Australia’s Tammy Beaumont to grab the global top spot for batters in ODI cricket and was named player of the series, though she was rested for the final game.
The team will complete the T20 series at the Ekana stadium. Venue fatigue may be challenging, but the prospect of back-to-back series wins in India present a strong motivation.
The selectors went with an unchanged team that secured ODI and T20 series home wins against Pakistan in January, and in the continued absence of frontline players, including captain Dané van Niekerk and vice-captain Chloe Tryon, the vote for team continuity drew out the best in the unit as a whole.
The team found a willing leader in 21-year-old top-order batting star Laura Wolvaardt, who found herself captaining the team to a series win with a record run chase in the fourth game before Suné Luus returned to lead the team in the fifth match.
Although each of the five ODI matches was won by the chasing side, the matches were hard-fought, and the Momentum Proteas deserved the trophy on the back of a pile of team and personal achievements.
The batting unit clicked, amassing eight half‑centuries and one century during the series, with young stars Lara Goodall and Anneke Bosch finding fame on the global stage.
When Marizanne Kapp wasn’t taking wickets with the new ball, the world-number-three all-rounder nudged repeat wins with the bat. The stalwart became the sixth woman to complete the ODI career double of 2 000 runs and 100 wickets.
Her bowling partner Shabnim Ismail became the first South African woman cricketer to reach 150 ODI wickets during the series, the seventh woman overall to make the list, and the second-fastest to do so.
This trip to India is a vital tour as the team looks forward to two major ICC events — the 50-Over Women’s World Cup in New Zealand next year and the South Africa-hosted Women’s T20 World Cup in 2023.
South Africa’s consistent success would not be possible if the team was not a professional unit.
In 2013, Cricket South Africa introduced its first-ever professional contracts for Proteas women’s cricketers. Eight years later, and following this week’s welcome announcement, the list of contracted athletes will increase from 14 to 15 with Western Province’s Lara Goodall’s inclusion.
There are now real expectations that a World Cup win could be around the corner for the Proteas women’s team. — gsport