Seven months after a stupendous show in the World Cup, the Indian women’s team shook off rustiness with ease with acrushing 88-run win over South Africa in the series-opener here yesterday.
The three-match series, also a first-round fixture of the ICC Women’s Championship, gives both the teams a chance to directly qualify for the 2021 ICC Women’s World Cup. After a runner-up finish in the World Cup, Mithali Raj and her team did not play any international games — thanks to lackadaisical planning on the part of the BCCI.
And the ongoing three-match series against South Africa was considered a big challenge for the Indians to get back into the groove. But in the first ODI, the Indian women never looked short of match practice as they shone bright in all departments to comfortably outclass the home team.
Electing to bat, the Indian women rode on left-handed batswoman Smriti Mandhana’s (84 off 98) half-century and skipper Mithali Raj’s 45 to post 213 for seven before the pace duo of Jhulan Goswami (4/24) and Shikha Pandey (3/23) shared seven wickets between them to bundle out South Africa for 125. Leg-break bowler Poonam Yadav too excelled with the ball registering figures of 2 for 22 from her nine overs.
All in all, it was a complete performance from the Indians in the opener and come tomorrow, Mithali and her team would be eying an encore, which will hand them an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
South Africa, on the other hand, would be disappointed with their batting effort after being shot out for just 125 in 43.2 overs. The hosts failed to capitalise on the end-of-innings momentum provided by their bowlers and slipped to 23 for three after Lizelle Lee (3), Trisha Chetty (5) and Mignon du Preez (0) all fell cheaply.
Captain Dane van Niekerk managed 41, but she lacked the required support from the other end. There were also starts for Laura Wolvaardt (21), Kapp (23) and Sune Luus (21 not out), but they were not enough.
The South African bowlers — two wickets each by Marizanne Kapp (2/26) and Ayabonga Khaka (2/47) — helped the home side claw their way back into game after Mandhana and her Raj put on 99 for the second wicket. But their batswomen looked a pale shadow of themselves in front of the Indian attack.
And if South Africa wish to take the series into the decider their batting will have to complement the bowlers to stand in with a chance to unsettle the Indians.
India: Mithali Raj (captain), Taniya Bhatia (wicket-keeper), Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami, Harmanpreet Kaur (vice-captain), Veda Krishnamurthy, Smriti Mandhana, Mona Meshram, Shikha Pandey, Punam Raut, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Sushma Verma (wicket-keeper) and Poonam Yadav.
South Africa: Dane van Niekerk (capt), Marizanne Kapp, Trisha Chetty, Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Sune Luus, Laura Wolvaardt, Mignon du Preez, Lizelle Lee, Chloe Tryon, Andrie Steyn, Raisibe Ntozakhe and Zintle Mali.
Match starts: 13.30hrs IST.