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Priya Punia

Bowlers throttle South Africa, Punia shines on debut

Ind v SA, 1st WODI, report

Half-centuries from debutant Priya Punia and Jemimah Rodrigues sealed a comprehensive eight-wicket win for India after their bowlers hunted in a pack to throttle the South African line-up in the opening women's one-day international.

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The hosts needed 41.4 overs to chase down South Africa's 164 at the Reliance Cricket Stadium in Vadodara on Wednesday, 9 October, taking a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

Pacer Jhulan Goswami and left-arm spinner Ekta Bisht, who weren't a part of India's squad for the preceding Twenty20 Internationals, enjoyed successful returns to the set-up, taking 3/33 and 2/28 respectively. All the five home bowlers used picked up at least one wicket. 

Marizanne Kapp, the experienced South African all-rounder, also made a strong return to the middle after missing the T20Is, her half-century vital in propping up the visitors' total. However, with the top order struggling against India's spinners, South Africa found themselves well short of a challenging total.  

Sune Luus, the South African captain, chose to bat, but her team were immediately on the back foot when Goswami trapped Lizelle Lee in front on the first ball. 

Trisha Chetty, on a comeback from a long injury lay-off, steadied the innings even as Laura Wolwaardt brought out her elegant drives. Bisht, though, with her slow, loopy deliveries, drew her out of the crease to be stumped by Taniya Bhatia, before Mignon du Preez fell to the same fate. 

Deepti Sharma's off-spin cut short Wolwaardt's promising innings, the batter bowled by prodigious spin while attempting a drive. Shikha Pandey's double-wicket over reduced South Africa to 103/6 halfway through their innings. 

Tumi Sekhukhune made just 6, but faced 34 balls, providing Kapp with vital support as she took the game deep on the way to her half-century. Kapp's knock came at a brisk rate, with typical innovation, before she was the last wicket to fall for a well-made 54 off 64 balls.

Smriti Mandhana's injury had opened the door for Punia to open the innings with Rodrigues and she made the most of the opportunity. The youngsters made contrasting half-centuries. While Rodrigues maintained a brisk rate of scoring, striking seven boundaries in her 55 off 65 balls, Punia took her time.    

Dropped on 6, Punia was on 21 in 59 balls when her partner was dismissed. She opened up after that, driving Sekhukhune for a pair of fours, and brought up fifty in 89 balls. Increasing in confidence, she knocked off the remaining runs in the company of her captain Mithali Raj.

Fittingly, she struck the winning run, her 75* off 124 balls wrapping up a memorable debut. 

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