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CRICKET | India must guard against complacency as it seeks a clear victory

India's Smriti, captain Harmanpreet and Renuka during a practice session ahead of the third ODI against South Africa at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengluru on June 22, 2024.

India’s Smriti, captain Harmanpreet and Renuka during a training session ahead of the third ODI against South Africa at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengluru on June 22, 2024. | Photo credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

India will be aiming for a clear win while South Africa will be seeking a crucial victory on their way to next year’s World Cup when the two meet in the third and final ODI of the series here at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday.

India may have narrowly beaten the visitors by four runs in the last match to win the series, but South Africa proved they are no slouch by narrowly missing out on a world record of 326 runs. India cannot afford to let their guard down if they want to have a flawless record.

While Smriti Mandhana scored her second century in a row and captain Harmanpreet Kaur returned to form with a hundred, there is a big question mark over opener Shafali Verma’s 50 overs. Sunday could be her last chance to prove the critics wrong.

India's Shabnam Shakil and Arundhati Reddy during a training session ahead of the third ODI against South Africa at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengluru on June 22, 2024.

India’s Shabnam Shakil and Arundhati Reddy during a training session ahead of the third ODI against South Africa at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengluru on June 22, 2024. | Photo credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

For South Africa, the match will be crucial in securing points for the ODI World Cup, with the performances of captain Laura Wolvaardt and Marizanne Kapp in the previous encounter serving as a confidence boost.

After the Proteas’ batting collapsed in the first ODI (122 all out), the pair scored top-notch centuries and did well to catch up with India’s mammoth total. A few more runs from fellow top-order batters Tazmin Brits and Anneke Bosch can complete the line-up.

There are, however, two exciting moments ahead of the series finale. It remains to be seen whether India decide to rotate their squad to keep them match-fit, as the caravan will next move to Chennai for a one-off Test and three T20Is.

Then there is Bengaluru’s fickle monsoon weather, which has so far lost its whimsy and is now perfect for cricket, and holidaymakers will be expecting more of it.



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