Proteas vs India: Five key head-to-head clashes
CAPE TOWN – Independent Media's Zaahier Adams takes a closer look at five head-on-head clashes to look our for in the ODI series, starting on Sunday.
1. Smriti Mandhana v Laura Wolvaardt
Mandhana is to Indian women's cricket what Wolvaardt is hoping to become. The 24-year-old was also once a teen prodigy like Wolvaardt has been, but has since matured into the mainstay of India's batting unit. In 51 ODI's, Mandhana has accumulated 2025 runs at average of 43.05, which includes 17 half-centuries and four centuries. Wolvaardt, still only 21, career record is almost identical with her 1996 runs coming in 53 matches at 45.36, with also 17 fifties but two hundreds less. In fact, only 41 points seperate them on the ICC Women's ODI batting rankings with Mandhana (6th) placed just above Wolvaardt (7th). Mandhana has already been handed a taste of leadership responsibility after being installed as the official T20I deputy, while it is evident such honours will be bestowed upon Wolvaardt sooner rather than later. Mandhana also has a massive social media influence having gained over 1 million Instagram followers during lockdown and Wolvaardt will certainly follow suit as she helps to promote the women's game in South Africa. Their form - or lack thereof - during the upcoming ODI series will be vital to the overall success of their respective teams over the coming weeks.
2. Jhulan Goswami v Shabnim Ismail
The more operative comparison would have been Ismail up against Shikha Pandey, but the Indian selectors have left out the longtime pace bowler in a bid to grow the squad's fast bowling depth. The home team have, though, retained the veteran Goswami to help guide the youngsters. A former ICC Women's Cricketer of the Year, she certainly has plenty to offer after spending almost 18 years on the international circuit. Ismail, meanwhile, may be 32 years old already but she will tell you that she is fitter than any upstart coming into the team. The fiery fast bowler is in the form of her life at the moment after just being named ICC Women's Cricketer of the Month and will be jumping at the chance to once again lead the Proteas attack against one of the most dangerous batting units in the world.
3. Poonam Yadav v Sune Luus
Ordinarily this would be Yadav against Proteas captain Dane van Niekerk, but with the skipper still ruled out the responsibility once again falls on Luus's shoulders not to only lead the team but also take on the leg-spinning duties. Yadav, though, is a class act that has had the best batters in the world in a spin. Yadav was phenomenal at last year's T20 World Cup with her ability to take all the pace off the ball often flummoxing the batters. Luus, meanwhile, is not in the same class as Yadav, but she is the most experienced of South Africa's spin trio alongside Tumi Sekhukhune and Nonkululeko Mlaba and will need to lead the way.
4. Mithali Raj v Mignon du Preez
Raj is the Queen of Indian Women's cricket, having represented the national team for over two decades. The classical batter holds almost every record there is imaginable, but still has the burning desire of a teenager to succeed. Du Preez, equally, is approaching the twilight of her career and is starting to think about life after cricket. However, like Raj, her team still values her runs in the middle-order and will need to contribute significantly particularly in the absence of the injured Van Niekerk and Chloe Tryon.
5. Deepti Sharma v Marizanne Kapp
These two all-rounders are invaluable to their respective teams. Sharma is the second-fastest (43 matches) and second-youngest to the career double of 1000-plus runs and 50-plus wickets in women's ODI cricket, while she also holds the record for the highest ODI score (188) by an Indian woman. Like Kapp, she enjoys the "floater" role and is ready to come in at any time depending on the match situation. Her off-spinners are also more than decent, judging her No 10 ranking on the ICC bowlers charts. Kapp, meanwhile, is the heart that beats within the Proteas team and is ready for any challenge. An accomplished new ball bowler - she is ranked No 3 in the world - that swings the ball in almost conditions, Kapp is a genuine threat up front. Equally with the bat, she plays in an aggressive manner with her strike-rarely at anything below run a ball.