Riding on debutant Priya Punia’s unbeaten 75, India women registered an emphatic eight-wicket win over South Africa women to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series at Vadodara on Wednesday.
Chasing 165, the hosts arrived at the target in 41.4 overs. India got off to a flying start in the run-chase with openers Punia, replacing the injured Smriti Mandhana, and Jemimah Rodrigues forging 83 runs. The partnership was broken by Nondumiso Shangase, who dismissed Rodrigues in the 21st over. The young batswoman tonked seven boundaries during her 65-ball stay at the crease.
Punam Raut didn’t last long and added just 16 before she became Nadine de Klerk’s first victim. The 23-year-old Punia from Jaipur, who smashed eight fours in 124 balls, then dominated the innings as captain Mithali Raj (11 not out) played second fiddle.
Earlier, opting to bat, South Africa struggled and were 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 bulk of the wickets.
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 89/3, South Africa slipped 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.
It was also captain Mithali Raj’s first game for India since March and with that she became the first female to last more than 20 years in international cricket, having made her debut back in June 1999. Raj retired from T20s last month.
The three-match series is not part of the Women’s ODI Championship.
The second ODI will be held at the same venue on Friday with the third and final match on Monday.
Brief scores: India Women 165/2 in 41.4 overs (Priya Punia 75*, Jemimah Rodrigues 55) beat South Africa Women 164 all out in 45.1 overs (Marizanne Kapp 54; Jhulan Goswami 3/33, Ekta Bisht 2/28) by 8 wickets