“We will focus on winning each session” – Harmanpreet Kaur’s mantra for Test against South Africa

The Indian women’s cricket team is currently hosting South Africa for a multi-format series from June 16 to July 9. India has swept the three-match One Day International (ODI) series 3-0 and now shifts their focus to the longer format of the game. Ahead of the one-off, four-day red-ball Test match from June 28 to July 1, both captains Harmanpreet Kaur and Laura Wolvaardt addressed the media’s questions in a press meet.

We will focus on winning each session - Harmanpreet Kaur's mantra for Test against South Africa
We will focus on winning each session – Harmanpreet Kaur’s mantra for Test against South Africa

The Indian women’s team last played at Chepauk in 2007 for a Quadrangular series and the last time they played a test here was against the West Indies in 1976.

Kaur talks about the venue for the one-off test, M. A. Chidambaram Stadium, being a “great opportunity” for the side to get used to the conditions, given it could be one of the venues for the Women’s ODI World Cup next year.

She emphasized the importance of gaining experience in home conditions, noting that despite being familiar, the team lacks substantial experience at this venue. Kaur believes that the series will boost their confidence and help them understand the wicket’s behavior and potential combinations for the World Cup.

“We are getting used to home conditions… even though they are home conditions, we don’t have much experience here. But I think this series will definitely give us a lot of confidence to see how the wicket is going to behave and what combinations we can look for (for the World Cup),” Harmanpreet Kaur.

The last time the Indian women’s team played the red-ball format was in December 2023, against Australia and England. Both one-off Test matches are historic in their own way, defeating England by 347 runs, marking the biggest win by runs in women’s Tests and their first home victory over England. The match against Australia also marked India’s maiden triumph against them in Test matches.

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Kaur reflects on their approach to playing Tests, emphasizing the importance of focusing on winning each session. She notes that the last time they played a Test, this mindset proved beneficial. The strategy for this match remains the same: concentrating on each session as it comes. Kaur highlighted the guidance from their support staff, who advised them to break the game down into manageable segments of two to two-and-a-half hours and focus on individual performance within those periods.

“In the long format you have to be there [in the middle] for four days. But if you think like that as a player you can overthink. The last time [we played a Test] we only thought about winning the sessions and that really helped us. This time also we will focus on each session. The best thing about Test cricket is you have time to come back. If you lose one session, you always have time to [make up for] things.

“That’s the key point which our support staff told us: ‘just focus on each and every session and if you can [break it] down to two to two-and-a-half hours, think about how you’re going to perform as a player.”

Meanwhile, the Proteas captain Laura Wolvaardt in her press meet, called for more red-ball cricket in the women’s cricket calendar.

Further regarding the pitch at Chepauk, which is expected to be spin-friendly, Wolvaardt discussed their preparation for it. She mentioned that the team has been focusing on facing a lot of spin in the nets lately, as it will be the biggest threat there. The balls were staying low at the nets the previous day, which added to the challenge.

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Wolvaardt said, “Preparation-wise, we have been facing a lot of spin in the nets lately since it will be the biggest threat here. The balls were staying low at the nets yesterday.”

She also highlighted the batting challenges ahead but expressed confidence in their spinners, who are eager to perform.

“Batting-wise, it’s going to be a big challenge. But thankfully, we have a few top spinners in our squad who are licking their lips and getting ready for the game tomorrow. Hopefully, they are going to put on a great show,” she added.

After the one-off Test match, both teams will compete in three Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) from July 5 to July 9, all taking place in Chennai.

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