Harmanpreet Kaur believes practice matches will help the Indian Women's team fare well in South Africa
The Indian Women's team will play a 3-match ODI and 5-match T20I series against South Africa in February.
What's the story?
The Indian men's cricket team may be enduring a tough time in South Africa having lost the first two matches of the 3-Test series but Harmanpreet Kaur believes that the Indian Women's team will be better prepared for the tough challenge awaiting them.
The women's side will undergo a preparatory camp as well as play two practice games in South Africa ahead of their 3-match ODI and 5-match T20I series against the Proteas allowing them much more time to acclimatise to the foreign conditions much better than what Virat Kohli & Co did.
"Going early will help us get used to the wickets there. We are getting two practice games and it will help build confidence before the main matches. The teams looks good and hopefully, we will do well," Harmanpreet Kaur said.
While much has been made of the long gap between the tour to South Africa, which is incidentally the Indian Women's team's first series since making it to the final of the 2017 ICC Women's Cricket World Cup in England in July, the 28-year-old believes that the break was a much-needed one for the side.
"Before the World Cup, we were involved in back-to-back seasons and we did not get any break. I was injured and there were girls who had niggles and we needed a break.
"I know the kind of momentum we got, if one or two series would have happened, then it would have been better for us. (But) At that time, the team needed a break, which the BCCI gave us and it was good," Kaur said.
In case you didn't know...
The Indian Women's team exceeded all expectations in making their way to the final of the 2017 ICC Women's World Cup before losing in a tight contest to hosts England.
Harmanpreet Kaur was one of the star performers during the tournament in England, scoring a stroke-filled 171 off just 115 balls in the semi-final against a tough Australian side to help India reach the final.
The heart of the matter
The manner in which the Indian Women's Cricket team led by Mithali Raj made their way to the final helped generate a lot of interest in the women's game with the matches being televised live helping the team's achievements reach a wider audience.
Talks of a Women's IPL soon followed but it was shelved right at the onset and the absence of any series since the end of the tournament has perhaps taken away the momentum that was generated by the side's dream run at the World Cup.
However, Kaur believes that the side needed the break and expects the team, which includes promising teenager, Jemimah Rodrigues, to perform well in South Africa in the upcoming ODI and T20 series.
The team will play a warm-up game at Bloemfontein on February 2 prior to the 1st ODI at Kimberley a couple of days later.
Apart from being India's first outing since the 2017 World Cup, this series also bears an extra significance as it marks the start of the ICC Women’s Championship (2017-20) for India.
There is no denying that the Indian Men's side under Virat Kohli would have benefitted from arriving early in South Africa for the current tour having spent much of last year playing at home, especially in the Test format.
The way the bowlers have performed has been exceptional, but it is clear that the batsmen has found the going tough in the challenging conditions.
While the BCCI has not done the men's team any favours by hastily arranging the series against Sri Lanka at home late last year thereby cutting short the team's preparation for the series against South Africa, thankfully, the women's side have been afforded time for the crucial tour and hopefully Mithali Raj & Co can utilise the chance well.