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Jemimah is fit and fine, playing ODIs a good opportunity to spend more time in the middle, says Harmanpreet

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Bengaluru, June 15 (IANS) On the eve of the ODI series opener against South Africa at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, India captain Harmanpreet Kaur said top-order batter Jemimah Rodrigues is fit and fine to play after missing the T20I tour of Bangladesh last month due to a back injury.

Jemimah underwent rehab at the NCA and was included in the squad for the upcoming home series against South Africa subject to fitness. On June 13, she captained the Board President’s XI side in a tour game against South Africa, which didn’t last beyond 14 overs due to rain.

“Jemimah is now fit and fine; she is back. She is very experienced and has been doing really well for so many years. It's quite a balanced batting side and hopefully, we will make a balanced batting order. Whatever we are expecting as a batting team, we will go and do,” said Harmanpreet in the pre-match press conference.

She also said a decision on Richa Ghosh’s batting position is to be taken, especially with Yastika Bhatia out due to injury. In India’s last ODI series against Australia, which they lost 3-0, Richa was moved from finishing to number three and made a composed 96 in the second ODI at the Wankhede Stadium.

“In the last series, I was at number four only and Jemimah was batting after me. But this time our main difference will be that Yastika is not there. She is injured and is in rehab. So Richa is going to keep as we all know, and because she is going to keep now, we have to keep a lot of things in mind - like where her batting order will be, so that it is easy for her to play the game,” she added.

It’s a year in which all attention for India has been to ace the 20-over format so that they put their best foot forward in the Women’s T20 World Cup to be held from October 3-20 in Bangladesh. So, where does this ODI series against South Africa fit in?

Harmanpreet, who recorded single-digit scores in the series against Australia, felt the three ODIs would help them get more game time at the crease.

“We take it as an opportunity because nowadays we are playing more T20I games, even though WPL is also there, and ODIs is something where as a player you have more time to assess yourself and even the conditions. So, I think we take it as an opportunity and it's good for us that we are getting more game time, especially in the middle, and a chance for expressing ourselves.”

Top-order batter Priya Punia makes a return to the ODI side after more than a year while fast-bowling all-rounder Arundhati Reddy is also included on the back of impressive performances in WPL 2024. Harmanpreet welcomed the duo’s return to the ODI setup and wished for them to do well.

“I think the message is very clear that even though they were not on the side previously, but their performance in domestic, we didn't ignore the way they have been performing from last two and three years. We gave them enough time to prove themselves again and again and get ready for the international games.”

“I am really happy with the way Arundhati played in WPL in the last two seasons. Priya has also performed really well in domestic cricket, especially in the ODI format and she is someone who has been scoring for a long time. As a team having them back in the side is a great thing.”

“They are great players and when they are back in the side, our team is quite balanced. I am really happy with their performances and now looking forward to them, as I hope they will do well in international cricket also.”

Harmanpreet signed off by talking about the preparations for the multi-format series against South Africa, which included various camps in the last few weeks, and were mentioned by head coach Amol Muzumdar on Friday.

“Well, that was totally fitness, fielding, and a batting camp for the batting unit. For bowlers, bowled a lot in NCA, and at the same time, they were keeping their fitness also in mind. We practiced with both white and red balls, and played more than 4-5 games.”

“We were getting ourselves ready for the South Africa series because here we are going to play all three formats. Those camps were really good for us and I have seen a lot of improvement in the last couple of weeks. Hopefully, whatever we have done in that camp, we will just go out and deliver well.”



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