The T20 World Cup preparations are underway and in full swing for the Indian women's side. Harmanpreet Kaur's team are already in South Africa, currently playing in a tri-series with the West Indies and the hosts.
With a round-robin format set for the series, each side plays the other twice before the final. As it turns out, the West Indies haven't managed to win a game yet and have been eliminated, which means India and South Africa will play in the final.
However, West Indies still have to play India to complete the group stages before the final takes place on 2nd February. With not much to play for, the teams might opt to rest a few players in this contest which will be played on January 30th.
As always, tactical battles and player match-ups will go a long way in deciding the outcome of this contest. On that note, we take a look at three player battles to keep an eye out for in this match:
#1 Smriti Mandhana vs Hayley Matthews
Smriti Mandhana is probably the most fluent and elegant batter to watch when she is in full flow. However, the left-hander often seems to have issues against the off-spinners, especially at the start of her innings.
West Indies will be well aware of this and their captain will be looking to exploit the match-up from the get-go. In the first contest between the two sides, Hayley Matthews attempted to take on the Indian opener but couldn't make much of it.
The Indian vice-captain usually relishes playing against the Women in Maroon. Even in the first meeting between the two sides in this tri-series, Mandhana scored an unbeaten 74 off 51 balls. This match-up at the top of the order will be pivotal and could set the tone for things to follow.
#2 Jemimah Rodrigues vs Shamilia Connell
It's been an up-and-down last 12 months in international cricket for Jemimah Rodrigues. The Mumbai batter has struggled to find runs with consistency in recent times and will want to turn this lean patch around sooner rather than later.
The biggest issue for Rodrigues has been her vulnerability against short-pitched bowling. West Indies have the weapons to explore this weakness, particularly the leader of their bowling unit, Shamilia Connell.
The tall fast bowler could prove to be a handful if she gets going and could also get some purchase off the surface in South Africa, a country she relishes playing in.
#3 Hayley Matthews vs Deepti Sharma
The West Indian captain has been a shadow of herself ever since taking over the leadership role from Stafanie Taylor. The 25-year-old hasn't been able to replicate her best form with bat or ball, leaving the team searching for other players to step up to the plate.
In this series, Matthews has opted to drop herself down to the middle order instead of taking the opening spot in an attempt to bring more balance to the batting unit. However, she might have to deal with the constant threat of Deepti Sharma when batting in the middle order.
Simply put, this contest might come down to India's best bowler taking on the best batter from the West Indies side. Matthews can be a dangerous player once she gets going, so India will want to come out on top in this match-up and dismiss her as soon as possible.
Get IPL 2023 Live Score along with Points Table & Schedule Updates at Sportskeeda.