With Smriti Mandhana out for a while, debutant Priya Punia stepped up to the plate with the bat and scored a brilliantly paced unbeaten 75 to lead India to an 8-wicket win against South Africa in Vadodara in the first ODI on Wednesday (October 9).
Punia received good support from fellow opener Jemimah Rodrigues (55), who also scored a half century to help the cause.
Earlier in the day, South Africa lost their first wicket of the first ball of the game when Jhulan Goswami (3/33) cleaned up Lizelle Lee, the first of her three wickets.
Trisha Chetty (14) and Mignon du Preez (16) alongwith Laura Wolvaardt (39) steadied the ship and got a couple of small partnerships going before spinners Ekta Bisht and Deepti Sharma got into the act and between them accounted for three crucial wickets.
Captain Sune Luus (22) and Marizanne Kapp (54) tried to rebuild, but India’s bowlers had other ideas. Shikha Pandey (2/38) accounted for the skipper before Goswami and Poonam Yadav (2/33) cleaned up the tail without any troubles.
Kapp, who smashed six boundaries during her 64-ball innings was the reason the visitors had some respectability by the end of their innings as they were bowled out for 164.
In response, India started off brightly with half centurions Punia and Rodrigues looking comfortable against the South African attack comprising Shabnim Ismail and Kapp.
Punia played the less aggressive partner, while Rodrigues, with seven boundaries in her innings, took the attack to the visitors during their 83-run opening partnership.
Poonam Raut (16) provided valuable support to Punia as well, before Nadine de Klerk sent her back to the hut.
Eventually, Punia, who smashed eight boundaries in her knock, along with captain Mithali Raj took the team over the line in the 42nd over to complete a comprehensive 8-wicket win to begin the series with.
India lead the three-match series 1-0, with the second game scheduled for October 11 in Vadodara.