South Africa strong contenders in T20Is against West Indies

© BCCI

Home side advantage is a common concept in cricket. Pitches, conditions, spectators etc. are generally expected to assist the hosts in any international series. But when the first T20I between West Indies and South Africa will be played at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Tuesday (August 31), the hosts could just start on the back foot.

Much has been spoken and written about the South African presence in The Hundred women’s competition, that finished ten days ago. Marizanne Kapp, Shabnim Ismail and captain Dane van Niekerk were part of the victorious Oval Invincibles. Mignon du Preez, Lizelle Lee, Laura Wolvaardt and Chloe Tryon were also part of the other outfits in the newest competition.

Only Stafanie Taylor, Deandra Dottin and Hayley Matthews were the West Indies contingent in the ECB-hosted tournament. Out of the trio, Taylor has been ruled out of the T20Is series. That makes ‘game-time’ skewed in favour of the tourists, which could negate whatever home advantage West Indies would have wanted to have.

Both teams are coming off successful series – West Indies blanked Pakistan at home last month, while South Africa had a series to remember, when they had toured India earlier this year. Moreover, the visitors have a boost in the return of van Niekerk and Tryon.

In isolation, the T20Is have little context in a year headed towards the Women’s World Cup. However, the three games could allow the players to adapt to the conditions before the tussle for the ODIs begins.

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Anisa Mohammed has quite a balanced outfit, sans Taylor. She has plenty of options in the seam-bowling department, with Qiana Joseph providing the left-arm variety. The hosts are quite thin on spin-bowling resources with only Mohammed and Matthews as options. They could add another one or two for the second and third games, since the squad named is just for the first T20I.

Van Niekerk has a problem of plenty on her return and would probably aim to manage the workload of Kapp and Ismail, as we saw during The Hundred. Nadine de Klerk could be a useful resource in such a scenario. Sune Luus, who stood in as skipper in the previous series, could find herself bowling more than she did with captaincy.

On paper, the tourists look stronger but discount West Indies at your own risk.

West Indies: Anisa Mohammed (c), Deandra Dottin (vc), Aaliyah Alleyne, Shamilia Connell, Britney Cooper, Shabika Gajnabi, Chinelle Henry, Qiana Joseph, Kycia Knight, Kyshona Knight, Hayley Matthews, Chedean Nation, Shakera Selman

South Africa: Dane van Niekerk (c), Sune Luus, Ayabonga Khaka, Shabnim Ismail, Laura Wolvaardt, Trisha Chetty, Sinalo Jafta, Tasmin Britz, Marizanne Kapp, Nondumiso Shangase, Lizelle Lee, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Mignon du Preez, Chloe Tryon, Nadine de Klerk, Lara Goodall, Tumi Sekhukhune, Masabata Klaas