Opening in her first One-Day International for India, Priya Punia starred in injured Smriti Mandhana’s absence as the hosts registered an emphatic eight-wicket win over South Africa in the first ODI in Vadodara on Wednesday.
Punia’s innings came after a fine collective bowling performance by India as South Africa struggled with the bat after winning the toss, getting bowled out for 164 in 45.1 overs.
It was an all-round bowling effort from India with Jhulan Goswami (3/33), Shikha Pandey (2/38), Ekta Bisht (2/8) and Poonam Yadav (2/33) sharing the wickets while Deepti Sharma picked up one wicket, but a crucial one at that, off well-set Laura Wolvaardt.
After Goswami trapped Lizelle Lee on the first ball of the day, opener Laura Wolvaardt (39) and Trisha Chetty (14) tried to steady the innings.
From 89 for three, South Africa collapsed to 115 for seven. In the end, they did well to post 164 but it turned out to be a comfortable chase for the Indians.
Marizanne Kapp top scored for South Africa with 54 off 64 balls.
India later cantered to victory in 41.4 overs with openers Punia (75 not out off 124) and Jeminah Rodrigues (55 off 65) laying the foundation for a resounding win.
Punia, who has played three T20 Internationals, got the chance to play her first ODI after star opener Mandhana was ruled out on the eve of the game due to a fracture on her right toe. The 23-year-old hit eight boundaries in her innings, making the most of an early reprieve when she dropped by Kapp on 6.
Rodrigues was also back among runs after bit of lean run in the preceding five-match T20 series and shared an 83-run stand with Punia. It was a second ODI half-century for the highly-rated 19-year-old, who smashed seven fours.
It was also captain Mithali Raj’s first game for India since March and with that she became the first woman to last more than 20 years in international cricket, having made her debut back in June 1999. Raj had retired from T20Is last month.
The three-match series is not part of the Women’s ODI Championship.
(With PTI inputs)