Pressure mounts on Shafali, Harmanpreet as Team India seek series win in second ODI

By BD Narayankar

Bengaluru, June 18 (UNI) With India and South Africa locking horns in the upcoming second women’s ODI, anticipation and apprehension loom large, especially around India’s struggling opener Shafali Verma and the under-pressure skipper Harmanpreet Kaur.

Shafali, the prodigious talent once hailed as the future of women’s cricket, finds herself grappling with a formidable challenge—a severe dip in form. Her last significant contribution in ODIs traces back to 2022, a blistering unbeaten 71 against Sri Lanka in Pallekele.

However, since then, her batting prowess has waned alarmingly, mustering a mere 21 runs across six matches. With her place in the squad under scrutiny, the 20-year-old finds herself at a critical juncture, in dire need of a turnaround.

Meanwhile, the weight of expectation is also bearing heavily on the shoulders of Harmanpreet, the captain, and linchpin of the team. Following a string of lackluster performances, accumulating a meager 41 runs in the last five matches, Harmanpreet is eager to dispel doubts and silence her critics with a commanding innings. Her form not only shapes her own confidence but also sets the tone for the entire batting lineup, making her resurgence imperative.

Compounding India’s concerns is the return of Jemimah Rodrigues from a back injury. Despite promising displays in the past, including two scores in the 80s last year, Rodrigues struggled in her comeback match and is determined to reclaim her form. With a steely resolve, the 21-year-old aims to replicate her past exploits and contribute significantly to the team’s fortunes.

The onus now rests squarely on the shoulders of India’s top-order batswomen as they brace for the pivotal encounter against South Africa. As they seek to clinch the series with a decisive victory, all eyes will be on Shafali, Harmanpreet, and Jemimah to deliver under pressure and propel India towards glory.

In contrast, vice-captain Smriti Mandhana has been a beacon of consistency. Her sixth ODI hundred in the last match was a masterclass in patience and skill, crucially guiding the team from a precarious 99 for five. Over her last 20 innings since February 2022, Mandhana has amassed seven fifties and two centuries, with only three single-digit scores.

India’s bowlers were in fine form, with debutante leg-spinner Asha Shobhana taking four wickets for 21 runs. However, there are fitness concerns surrounding Pooja Vastrakar, who left the field during South Africa’s innings due to what appeared to be a knee issue, later clarified as cramps. Should she be unavailable, Arundhati Reddy is ready to step in as a like-for-like replacement.

On the flip side, South Africa is gearing up for redemption after their batting lineup faltered against India’s spinners on the sluggish Chinnaswamy pitch. With Asha Shobhana, Deepti Sharma, and Radha Yadav wreaking havoc with seven wickets between them, South Africa faces the daunting task of formulating a counter-strategy.

The spotlight will be on skipper Laura Wolvaardt, who endured a premature dismissal in the opening match. Her resurgence holds the key to South Africa’s prospects, as they strive to avert another batting collapse and mount a formidable challenge.

With the stage set for the second ODI, fans are poised for a spectacle brimming with high-stakes drama and intense competition. Will India’s top-order batswomen rise to the occasion, or will South Africa muster the resilience to counter India’s formidable bowling attack? Wednesday’s clash promises to unravel the answers to these tantalizing questions.


India: Harmanpreet Kaur (C), Smriti Mandhana (VC), Shafali Verma, Deepti Sharma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Richa Ghosh (WK), Uma Chetri (WK), Dayalan Hemlatha, Radha Yadav, Asha Sobhana, Shreyanka Patil, Saika Ishaque, Pooja Vastrakar, Renuka Singh Thakur, Arundhati Reddy, Priya Punia.

South Africa: Laura Wolvaardt (c), Anneke Bosch, Tazmin Brits, Nadine de Klerk, Annerie Dercksen, Mieke de Ridder, Sinalo Jafta, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Suné Luus, Eliz-Mari Marz, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Tumi Sekhukune, Nondumiso Shangase, Delmi Tucker.

Match starts at 1.30 PM.

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