Half-centuries from debutant Priya Punia and Jemimah Rodrigues sealed a comprehensive eight-wicket win for India after their bowlers hunted in a pack to throttle the South African line-up in the opening women’s one-day international.
The hosts needed 41.4 overs to chase down South Africa’s 164 at the Reliance Cricket Stadium in Vadodara on Wednesday, taking a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Pacer Jhulan Goswami and left-arm spinner Ekta Bisht took 3/33 and 2/28 respectively. All the five home bowlers used picked up at least one wicket.
Marizanne Kapp, the experienced South African all-rounder, also made a strong return to the middle after missing the T20Is, her half-century vital in propping up the visitors’ total. However, with the top order struggling against India’s spinners, South Africa found themselves well short of a challenging total.
Smriti Mandhana’s injury had opened the door for Priya to open the innings with Rodrigues and she made the most of the opportunity. The youngsters made contrasting half-centuries. While Rodrigues maintained a brisk rate of scoring, striking seven boundaries in her 55 off 65 balls, Punia took her time.
Dropped on 6, Priya was on 21 in 59 balls when her partner was dismissed. She opened up after that, driving Sekhukhune for a pair of fours, and brought up her 50 in 89 balls. Increasing in confidence, she knocked off the remaining runs in the company of her captain Mithali Raj.
Fittingly, she struck the winning run, her 75 not out off 124 balls wrapping up a memorable debut.