Women's Cricket

Preview: Mithali Raj and co eye series win, pressure on SA’s batters after tame collapse

Led by pacers Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey, the Indians registered a comfortable 88-run win in the 1st ODI.

Dominant in the series-opener, the Indian team would now look to seal the issue when it takes on South Africa in the second One-day International of the three-match series at Kimberley on Wednesday.

Seven months after a stupendous show in the World Cup, the Indian women’s team shook off rustiness with ease with a crushing 88-run win over South Africa in the series-opener.

The three-match series, also a first-round fixture of the ICC Women’s Championship, gives both the teams a chance to directly qualify for the 2021 Women’s World Cup. After a runner-up finish in the World Cup, Mithali Raj and her team did not play any international games – thanks to lackadaisical planning on the part of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

And, the ongoing series against South Africa was considered a challenge for the Indians to get back into the groove. In the first ODI, the Indian women never looked short of match practice as they shone bright in all departments to comfortably outclass the hosts.

Electing to bat, the Indian women rode on opener Smriti Mandhana’s fluent 84 half-century and skipper Mithali Raj’s 45 to post 213/7. The pace duo of veteran Jhulan Goswami (4/24) and Shikha Pandey (3/23) shared seven wickets between them to bundle out South Africa for 125.

Leg-spinner Poonam Yadav too excelled with the ball, registering figures of 2/22 from her nine overs as India put in a complete performance. Another win would see Mithali and her team take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.

South Africa, on the other hand, would be disappointed with their batting effort after being in 43.2 overs. The hosts failed to capitalise on the momentum provided by their bowlers at the back end of the Indian innings. Their chase was in tatters after slumping to 23/3 – top-order batters Lizelle Lee (3) along with seasoned campaigners Trisha Chetty (5) and Mignon du Preez (0) all fell cheaply.

Captain Dane van Niekerk scored a defiant 41, but she lacked the required support from the other end. There were also starts for teenager Laura Wolvaardt (21), Marizanne Kapp (23) and Sune Luus (21*), but they were not enough.

The South African pacers Kapp (2/26) and Ayabonga Khaka (2/47) helped the Proteas claw their way back into game after Mandhana and Raj put on a steady 99-run stand for the second wicket. But, their batters looked a pale shadow of the side that hammered India in the group stages of the World Cup.

Squad

India: Mithali Raj (c), Taniya Bhatia, Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami, Harmanpreet Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy, Smriti Mandhana, Mona Meshram, Shikha Pandey, Punam Raut, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Sushma Verma (wicket-keeper) and Poonam Yadav.

South Africa: Dane van Niekerk (c), Marizanne Kapp, Trisha Chetty, Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Sune Luus, Laura Wolvaardt, Mignon du Preez, Lizelle Lee, Chloe Tryon, Andrie Steyn, Raisibe Ntozakhe and Zintle Mali.

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