India women have looked impeccable so far in the 2017 edition of ICC Women's World Cup. Mithali Raj's side have won four matches on the trot and are sitting behind leaders Australia in the points table.
With five wins being the minimum count to making the knockout stages, India, who have three more matches to play in the round-robin stage, have a good chance of sealing the semi-final berth as early as today if they manage a win against South Africa at Leicester.
Raj and girls opened the campaign in England with a thumping 35-run win over the hosts and have looked in complete control ever since. Wins against West Indies, Sri Lanka and Pakistan have come their way.
Despite having stars like Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur, the Women in Blue have not been entirely dependent on them, but have come up with cumulative, all-round performances. While the girls showcased their batting might in the first two games, it was their spinners who helped defend below-par scores against Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
India will be heading into today's tie high on confidence as they have produced consistent results against South Africa in the recent past. Notably, in the tightly-fought World Cup Qualifier Final at Colombo earlier this year, Kaur took India past the line with a last ball six.
"We are quite confident for the game against South Africa because in the last four or five games we have played against them we have done well," Veda Krishnamurthy, who played her first match of the tournament against Sri Lanka on Wednesday, said.
"We are more compact than them, because individually, South Africa are very good, but when it comes to collective performance, they really depend on their main players to do well," she added.
Apart from the quest for a semi-final berth, a lot of individual milestones are up for grabs in today's encounter at Grace Road. Raj eyes a special landmark as just needs 33 runs to go past Charlotte Edwards of England, who finished her career with 5,992 runs, and become the leading run-scorer in Women's ODI.
Left-arm spinner Ekta Bisht, who decimated Pakistan with a five-for, is currently second on the list of leading wicket-takers in the tournament with seven wickets and she is expected to trouble the South African batsmen. Smriti Mandhana, who impressed in the first two outings, will also look to get back to scoring ways.
On the other hand, a lot of focus will be on the South African bowling line-up, which has been inconsistent in the tournament. While the African giants shot out West Indies for 48 on Sunday, July 2, they were taken to the cleaners by England three days later.
While their batters, riding on big-hitting openers Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt, have impressed, the onus will be on captain Dane van Niekerk to marshall her bowling troops against the strong Indian line-up.
India Women vs South Africa Women: Schedule
Date: July 8
Time: 9:30 am GMT (3 pm IST)
Venue: Grace Road, Leicester