India kickstarted their final leg of preparations for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa by defeating the hosts by 27 runs in the opening match of the tri-series at Buffalo Park, East London on Thursday.

India were without captain Harmanpreet Kaur who was ill, as were reportedly a few other players in the camp, resulting in a depleted squad. But it meant Chandigarh youngster Amanjot Kaur got her international debut and she played a significant part in India posting 147/6. The hosts then managed to get to 120/9 as the spinners clicked collectively to keep the run-flow in check for the most part.

West Indies are the third team in this tri-series.

Led by Smriti Mandhana and asked to bat first, the Indian lineup struggled to get going in the first half of their innings, losing wickets at regular intervals. In Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh’s absence (U19 World Cup duties) Yastika Bhatia got the nod as both the keeper and opener, and she played a good hand of 33. The highlight of the Indian innings came in the second half as Deepti Sharma and Amanjot built a brilliant 76-run stand off 50 balls. Amanjot took her time to settle in but peppered the off-side boundary at will once she found her rhythm, finishing on 41 off 30 balls which is the second highest score on T20I debut by an Indian woman.

It was then Deepti’s turn then to shine with the ball as she picked up three wickets, including the crucial one of Laura Wolvaardt early. While Marizanne Kapp and later Chloe Tryon threatened to go big, Devika Vaidya and Radha Yadav got their respective wickets to make sure India finished comfortable winners.

Amanjot was declared player of the match and she said, “I was very happy to contribute to the team’s win. Never thought I’d be playing like this, glad that I grabbed the chance. Was just thinking of scoring runs. Deepti calmed my nerves, it was my debut, and she guided me well. She asked me to just rotate the strike and bat deep.”

Stand-in captain Mandhana, said: “We spoke before the match that we need to show our character and the team did that. The partnership between Amanjot and Deepti was really good to watch. Our bowlers did their job on this pitch. With the start we got, we thought of getting to 120-130, but the batting they did got us about 15 more, credits to them. It’s a dry surface and our spinners believed they could do the job.”

Match scorecard here

Match Date Time Venue
India beat SA by 27 runs Thursday, January 19 10.30 pm IST Buffalo Park, East London
SA vs WI Saturday, January 21 6.30 pm IST Buffalo Park, East London
IND vs WI Monday, January 23 10.30 pm IST Buffalo Park, East London
SA vs WI Wednesday, January 25 6.30 pm IST Buffalo Park, East London
SA vs IND Saturday, January 28 10.30 pm IST Buffalo Park, East London
WI vs IND Monday, January 30 6.30 pm IST Buffalo Park, East London
Final Thursday, February 02 6.30 pm IST Buffalo Park, East London