It is the first international match for India Women after a gap of more than a couple of months since the Women World Cup. The team marked its ICC Women’s Championship campaign winning the first match of the tournament. The opponents were South Africa Women, playing match at Kimberly. India’s inning was bolstered with the strike from bats-women Smriti Mandhana, who thumped 84 off 94 balls. Additionally, skipper Mithali Raj scored 45 in a long partnership stretch. The win positioned the team on fourth of the chart. Now, India is ahead of England, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the points table.
Captain Raj decided to bat first winning the toss. The decision proved worthwhile as her players at the upper order had the advantage of pitch conditions. The opening partnership between Punam Raut and Smriti Mandhana was stretched over 90 balls bringing 55 runs. In the 15th over, Raut was taken down at the delivery off Ayabonga Khaka brining on Raj to the crease. The next partnership inning was for 99 runs. In the stand, Mithali Raj knocked a four to mark her 1000th ODI runs milestone. Their stand was until the 36th over hauling India’s score to 155.
In the following overs after Raj’s wicket, India faced a wobble losing wickets at low individual scores. The run rate fell drastically bringing only 59 runs in the final 87 balls. Also, the team lost four wickets in the lower middle order in a space of 39 balls, where line-up could scratch out only 14 runs. Marizanne Kapp trapped Harmanpreet Kaur and dismissed Shikha Verma. She also run out Veda Krishnamurthy. Deepti Sharma also lost her wicket to Shabnim Ismail ahead of Verma. In the final stretch, Shikha Pandey and Jhulan Goswami played with unbeaten single digit scores pulling the total tally to 213.
South Africa Women started the chase wobbling down the line since the early overs. Losing the first three wickets within the first 10 overs, the score plummeted to 23 for 3. In the middle overs, captain Daniel van Niekerk steered the chase striking 42 runs partnering Kapp and Ismail lower down the line. Kapp scored 23, while Sune Luus remained unbeaten with a score of 21 as the team exhausted itself at 125.
India’s bowling was spearheaded by Shikha Pandey rendering the early breakthrough. Her 3 for 23 was the prime attack of the inning. The middle order was struck by Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Poonam Yadav, while, Jhulan Goswami clipped away the lower order, finishing with 4 wickets for 24. The bowlers wrapped up match for a victory within 44 overs.
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