Raj 54*, Krishnamurthy 37*, Rodriques 37 Daniels 1-16
South Africa 164/4 van Niekerk 38, du Preez 31 Patil 2-23
by seven wickets
India’s first over in their reply to South Africa’s target of 165, in the first of the 5-match T20 series, set the tone for the rest of the innings. Opening bowler Marizanne Kapp, who would probably like to forget this match in a hurry, had a horror of a first over. Her very first delivery was flayed by Mithali Raj past the slips for four. Smriti Mandhana (28 off 15 balls), continuing her red-hot form, then plundered 14 runs from the remaining balls and India were 20 on the board in the blink of an eye.
Shabnim Ismail, who also would probably like to join Kapp in forgetting the match, was similarly punished in her second over for 17 runs. By the end of the Powerplay, India were 66 for the loss of the wickets of Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur who fell off consecutive deliveries. Mandhana drove Moseline Daniels uppishly straight into the hands of Dane van Niekerk at extra cover. T20 skipper Kaur, coming in at No. 3, set off for a single after nudging the ball to the leg-side. However seeing Raj’s lackluster response at the other end, she scrambled to get back to her crease and fell short due to a superb direct throw from the square-leg fielder.
Two quick wickets and South Africa were back in the game. However, Raj and Jemimah Rodrigues, one of four debutants fielded by India today, stitched a 69-run partnership and ensured India did not veer off track. Rodrigues looked very comfortable on the international stage. She extended her impressive domestic form here, thrashing 14 runs in her first ever international over off Ayabonga Khaka’s solitary over. She eventually fell for 37 off 27 balls, a van Niekerk delivery finding her top edge and landing into the hands of Raisibe Ntozakhe at short fine leg. India needed 49 off 39 at that stage.
Veda Krishnamurthy, walking in at number 5, hit 37 off 22 deliveries which included 3 sixes, one of which ended the Indian innings in style. Raj at the other end was her usual calm self throughout the innings and remained unbeaten on 54 off 48 balls. Their 52-run partnership ensured India reached the target with little fuss, to go 1-up in the series.
Earlier South Africa, put in to bat by India, got off to a cautious start in their Powerplay scoring 37/1. Opener Lizelle Lee skied Shikha Pandey and was caught at mid-off by Kaur to depart for 19 off 18 balls. Debutant Pooja Vastrakar, who opened India’s bowling, bowled economically in her first two overs giving away just 10 runs. Suné Luus (18 off 13 balls), who clobbered her for a 4 and 6 in her third over spoiling Vastrakar’s figures somewhat, hit one shot too many and found Pandey at deep cover thus becoming Vastrakar’s maiden wicket.
Top scorer Niekerk, batted well for her 38 off 31 deliveries. She was trapped LBW by the impressive Anuja Patil who gave away just 23 runs in her 4 overs. India kept on applying the pressure which was released in the 16th over which yielded 13 runs. Poonam Yadav, the bowler, was expensive today with figures of 31 runs from her 3 overs.
Patil bagged her second victim when she had Mignon du Preez (31 from 37 balls) caught by Veda running in from the long-on boundary. Chloe Tryon, who came in next, smashed a 4 and a 6 off her first two deliveries. She went berserk in the final over of the innings smashing 22 runs off Pandey, who till then had gone for only 18 in her 3 overs. The late hitting by Chloe (32 off just 7 balls) lifted South Africa to a competitive target which was then easily overhauled by India.
Player of the Match: Mithali Raj