South Africa eased to a dominant eight-wicket win against India in the first women’s ODI of their five-match series in Lucknow.
South Africa asked India to bat before restricting them to 177/9 in their 50 overs. The target of 178 proved no match for the explosive South Africa openers, with Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt putting on a 169-run partnership – the best stand for South Africa against India for any wicket – to power the chase.
India started brightly enough with the bat, with Smriti Mandhana typically putting away a few deliveries to the fence early on. However, consecutive wickets proved a big blow. Mandhana fell in the fifth over, attempting to flay at a wide one from Ayabonga Khaka, and being caught behind. Marizanne Kapp then had Jemimah Rodrigues sent back – Lee took an excellent catch at gully – and India were 18/2.
Punam Raut and Mithali Raj attempted to revive the innings, with Raut attempting to take the more aggressive approach. It was why their 22-run stand was broken, with Raut pulling Shabnim Ismail down the throat of fine leg. At 40/3, India risked being bundled out for a small total.
Fortunately for the home side, the vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur was in stellar touch. She added impetus to the innings, hammering a 41-ball 40, refusing to get bogged down, and kept the scoreboard ticking. There were six fours off her bat as she put on an important 62-run stand with Raj. It took India past the 100-run mark and had the partnership lasted, India were looking at a total in excess of 200.
It was Sune Luus, the South Africa captain, who broke through crucially. She had Kaur holing out to long-off, and the dismissal took out the sting from India’s attack. Deepti Sharma and Raj formed a stubborn partnership, however, their 52-run partnership frustrating South Africa.
Raj brought up her 54th ODI century during that partnership – nobody has more in women’s ODIs – but when she was dismissed soon after, picking out point off a full toss, India imploded. Deepti was dismissed the very next over, for a 46-ball 27, as Nonkululeko Mlaba cleaned her up when she looked to paddle sweep.
India lost five wickets for just 22 runs and finished on 177/9. That total looked far from sufficient given the start Lee and Wolvaardt provided South Africa.
They were rarely in discomfort, putting away boundaries every other over to quickly diminish their target. India’s bowlers struggled to hit the troubling lines and lengths, and even their spinners – usually a threat for the best batters – struggled, with Lee and Wolvaardt being utterly dominant.
The duo were together for 38 overs before the stand was broken. Jhulan Goswami had Wolvaardt trapped in front with a yorker, the batter walking back for a well-made 110-ball 80. Luus became Goswami’s second wicket in her next over, but the damage was done. Lee finished unbeaten on 83*, and South Africa got off the mark.
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