When India face South Africa in the ODI series opener in Lucknow on Sunday, they would be taking the field after a 364-day gap in international cricket. South Africa, on the other hand, have had two full limited-overs series – of three ODIs and as many T20Is each, against Pakistan – during this period. Mithali Raj, the India ODI captain who is 85 away from scoring 10,000 runs in international cricket, would herself be turning out in India colours after 487 days. With the next ODI World Cup in 12 months, Raj, 38, is hopeful that both she and the team will be able to get in into “rhythm” quick enough to challenge South Africa, whom they have faced more times than they have any other opponent since the 2017 ODI World Cup.

“I am training the same way I do before any international series. But I am looking forward to getting more runs. I was in rhythm in the last series in 2019. Hope to do the same here,” Raj, senior-most player in the ODI side, said at a virtual press conference on the eve of the first of the ODI in Lucknow.