South Africa scored a dominant eight-wicket win over India in the first ever women’s ODI in its five-game series in Lucknow.
South Africa asked India to beat India before limiting them to 177/9 in their 50 overs. The goal of 178 was not up to the explosive opening games in South Africa. Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt formed a 169-year partnership – the best position for South Africa v India for any wicket – to move the pursuit forward.
India started off brightly enough with the bat, with Smriti Mandhana usually putting down some supplies on the fence early on. Successive gates, however, proved a heavy blow. Mandhana raided in the fifth, tried to fend off a wide range of Ayabonga Khaka, and was recaptured. Marizanne Kapp then had Jemimah Rodrigues sent back – Lee had an excellent catch in the gorge – and India was 18/2.
Punam Raut and Mithali Raj tried to revive the innings while Raut tried to be more aggressive. Because of this, her 22-run stance was broken, and Raut pulled Shabnim Ismail down the throat of a fine leg. At 40/3 India risked being bundled for a small sum.
Fortunately for the home team, the vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur was in excellent contact. She pulsed the innings, pounded a 41-ball 40, refused to tie up, and let the scoreboard tick. There were six fours from her racket when she set up an important 62-run stand with Raj. It took India to cross the 100-run mark, and after the partnership lasted, India saw more than 200 in total.
It was Sune Luus, the South African captain, who made a decisive breakthrough. She let Kaur get off for too long, and the discharge took the sting of India’s attack. Deepti Sharma and Raj formed a tenacious partnership, but their 52-year partnership frustrated South Africa.
Raj brought up her 54th ODI century during that partnership – nobody has ODIs for women anymore – but when she was fired shortly thereafter and threw a point, India imploded. Deepti was fired for a 46-ball 27 the next time Nonkululeko Mlaba cleaned her up while looking for a paddle sweep.
India lost five wickets for only 22 runs, ending on 177/9. This sum seemed far from sufficient given the start Lee and Wolvaardt provided for South Africa.
They rarely felt uncomfortable and set boundaries for each other to quickly reduce their goal. India’s bowlers struggled to hit the problematic lines and lengths, and even their crank – usually a threat to the best batters – battled, with Lee and Wolvaardt absolutely dominating.
The duo were together for 38 overs before the booth was broken. Jhulan Goswami had Wolvaardt caught with a York in front of him, the batsman went back to score a well-made 110-ball 80. Luus became Goswami’s second wicket in their next game, but the damage was done. Lee was unbeaten at 83 * and South Africa missed.