South Africa have named uncapped medium-pace bowler Zintle Mali in their women’s squad to face India in three one-day internationals next month.
The squad of 14 otherwise comprises familiar names who represented the Proteas at the Women’s World Cup last year.
Mali comes into the team at the expense of left-arm seamer Moseline Daniels.
The Proteas have not played a match since their World Cup semi-final defeat to England in Bristol last July and will need to shake off the cobwebs quickly as India arrive in South Africa with their full arsenal that narrowly lost the World Cup final to the hosts at Lord’s.
The three matches against the World Cup runners-up will form part of the ICC Women’s Championship (IWC), which will decide which teams qualify for the 2021 World Cup.
Although some of the squad have been involved in the Australian Big Bash, coach Hilton Moreeng wants the team to continue their development from the get-go.
“For us, the team selection has been a continuation from the World Cup with a few youngsters included in the squad,” Moreeng said.
“These youngsters need to start learning and being part of a squad that has been doing well in the last couple of years; it will do them a world of good in their growth.
“As one of the finalists in the World Cup, we know that the series against India is going to be a tough one. We need to make sure that we capitalise on the home-ground advantage as a team to make sure that we bring the right results to the fore.
“It’s been a long break for the squad and preparation has been very good building up to this important first IWC series and we are going to make sure that we keep working hard and that we arrive prepared for it.
“Come the first game against India, we need to make sure that we hit the ground running.”
Moreeng and the selectors have, though, cast their net a bit wider when it comes to the T20 squad, which will play five matches against India.
The Proteas venture off to the Caribbean in November for the ICC Women’s World T20, and it is clear that Moreeng wants to see a few more players before finalising that squad.
Senior players like leg-spinner Sune Luus and opening bat Laura Wolvaardt have not been included - along with Mali - to accommodate Odine Kirsten, Nadine de Klerk and Moseline Daniels.
“Going into the T20s, for us it is going to give us good preparation against a very good side.
“The televised double-headers are the cherry on top to make sure that we keep improving and raising the awareness regarding women’s cricket in the country and making sure that we build towards the ICC Women’s World T20 in West Indies.
“Every game that we play from now on will be with that in mind,” Moreeng said.
ODIs: Dane van Niekerk (capt), Marizanne Kapp, Trisha Chetty, Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Sune Luus, Laura Wolvaardt, Mignon du Preez, Lizelle Lee, Chloe Tryon, Andrie Steyn, Raisibe Ntozakhe, Zintle Mali
T20s: Dane van Niekerk (capt), Marizanne Kapp, Trisha Chetty, Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Sune Luus, Odine Kirsten, Mignon du Preez, Lizelle Lee, Chloe Tryon, Nadine de Klerk, Raisibe Ntozakhe, Moseline Daniels