JOHANNESBURG – A half-century from Mithali Raj underpinned a brilliant all-round batting performance from India as they easily gunned down 165 against South Africa in the 1st T20I at Senwes Park, Potchefstroom, on Tuesday, to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
The decision was taken before the series for Raj, India’s ODI skipper, to hand over captaincy duty to Harmanpreet Kaur in the shortest format.
Despite the change in role, however, she still led from the front to lay the bedrock for India’s successful chase, her importance to the side underlined by Harmanpreet’s failure – who was run out for a duck as she attempted to get off the mark to the very first ball she faced.
There was able support from the rest of India’s top five. Smriti Mandhana provided the initial burst, racing to 28 off 15 balls with three fours and two sixes.
#ProteasWomen update: RUN OUT! Miscommunication between the batters sees captain Kaur out without scoring. IND wmn 47/2 (4.5 ovs), need 118 from 91 to win. Live stream: https://t.co/LmMqNdbn0o pic.twitter.com/yuwV5Dc0hD— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) February 13, 2018
India then lost two wickets in two balls, Mandhana caught by South African captain Dane van Niekerk off the bowling of Moseline Daniels followed by that Harmanpreet run out, before a combination of youth and experience saw them close to victory, Raj combining with debutant Jemimah Rodriques – at 17 years old less than half her partner’s age – to add 69.
The newcomer was far from overawed, and she outscored the legendary Raj during their partnership, her share totalling 37 from 27 balls. Her score was equalled by Veda Krishnamurthy, who struck a trio of fours and sixes to bring the game to a swift conclusion, India winning with more than an over to spare.
#ProteasWomen update: WICKET. Good catch by Van Niekerk gives Shabnim Ismail her first wicket. Manhana goes for 28. IND wmn 47/1 (4.4 ovs), need 118 from 92 to win. Live stream: https://t.co/LmMqNdbn0o#AlwaysRising #SAvIND pic.twitter.com/C3Ar7Aa24H— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) February 13, 2018
It was a strong all-round performance, and especially with the bat, for a team whose last T20I before Tuesday's came in 2016.
With the Women’s World T20 just seven months away, indications are that India are on track to put together a strong challenge in that tournament.
African News Agency