South Africa proved the virtues of form as they crushed India by eight wickets in the first of their five-match women’s ODI series here on Sunday. The hosts, playing their first international game for a year failed to find their best as South Africa comfortably chased down a modest target.
Electing to bowl, South Africa restricted India to 177/9 before coasting to 178/2 in 40.1 overs.
South Africa skipper Sune Luus rotated her bowlers well on the bouncy red-clay turf of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana International Stadium. India had not played an international match since losing to Australia in the World Cup T20 final in March 2020 at Melbourne. South Africa had arrived in India after a 5-1 win over Pakistan, including a 2-1 T20 series win, at home in January.
With experienced seamer Shikha Pandey not in the side, the Indian bowling lacked pace and accuracy. South Africa chased down the target in 40.1 overs, losing two wickets. India though enjoy a 23-5 win-loss record against SA.
Having played good cricket at home, especially in the series against Pakistan, openers Lizelle Lee (83) and Laura Wolvaardt (80) enjoyed a good outing.
Both made their intentions clear from the second over when Lee drove consecutive boundaries off debutant pacer Monica Patel, before Wolvaardt played powerful cuts off Jhulan Goswami. Skipper Mithali Raj made quick bowling changes, bringing on Rajeshwari Gayakwad, then introducing a double spin attack with Deepti Sharma and Poonam Yadav before trying her deputy Harmanpreet Kaur to bowl her off-spin, but to no avail.
Earlier, despite losing Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues quickly, India looked set for a challenging score at one stage with the experienced Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur striking the ball well. They stitched together 62 runs for the third wicket. But the innings lost momentum after Kaur, attempting a big hit off Luus, was caught by Shabnim Ismail at long-off for 40.
Raj and Deepti Sharma then tried to accelerate, adding 52 runs for the fourth-wicket. After Mithali Raj’s dismissal for 50 off pacer Ismail, wickets kept falling at regular intervals. Ismail finished the most successful bowler, with 3/28. Left-arm orthodox spinner Nonkululeko Mlaba took 2/41.
India 177/9 in 50 overs (M Raj 50, H Kaur 40, S Ismail 3/28, N Mlaba 2/41); South Africa
178/2 in 40.1 overs (L Lee 83*, L Wolvaardt 80, J Goswami 2/38). SA won by 8 wickets.