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Tons galore as India pip SA in runathon

As it panned out, Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur-inspired India not only mustered to put up these many runs on the board, thanks to their 100s, but went on to defend it narrowly for a four-run win to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match ODI leg of the all format series.
Last Updated : 19 June 2024, 18:06 IST

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Bengaluru: South Africa won the toss and chose to bowl - a decision that looked to have paid-off with India reeling at 4 runs after 5 overs. At this juncture, the hosts scoring 325 or the opponents almost chasing down the big total later appeared unfathomable at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on Wednesday. 

As it panned out, Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur-inspired India not only mustered to put up these many runs on the board, thanks to their 100s, but went on to defend it narrowly for a four-run win to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match ODI leg of the all format series. 

Coming into the game with a century in the first ODI here, Mandhana upped the ante by adding her second consecutive ton (seventh overall). The 27-year-old’s measured 136 in 120 balls had 18 boundaries and two maximums. Captain Harmanpreet doubled the joy for those who turned out at the venue with an aggressive 103 from 88 balls. 

A daunting task of chasing a huge target stared at the South Africans. They took on the fight head on with captain Laura Wolvaardt (135 not out) and Marizanne Kapp (114) joining forces to form a partnership of 184 for the fourth wicket. With the finish line well in sight, Kapp’s wicket off Deepti Sharma in the 43rd over slowed down their stride before pacer Pooja Vastrakar came to India’s rescue in the death overs to give her team a thrilling win.

However, it was a snail-paced affair at the beginning. Openers Smriti and Shafali Verma struggled to get going against Proteas’ Ayabonga Khaka and Masabata Klaas. Discomfort written all over her body language, Shafali was the first to be sent back by spinner Nonkululeko Mlaba in the 12th over.

In-coming batter D Hemalatha took some time to settle down but her two hits to the stands shrugged off a few of India’s inhibitions before she departed for 24. This is when the game began to veer in the direction of the host team. 

Walking to the crease realising the need to keep the scoreboard ticking, Harmanpreet found gaps to take some quick singles and twos. Constant pep talks and friendly banter from Harmanpreet seemed to have given Mandhana, who was still being her defensive self, some confidence to switch gears. 

As the runs began to flow from the bats of the skipper and her deputy, a clueless Laura Wolvaardt-led side were left scrambling for cover. If the first 50 runs took nearly 17 overs to come by, 143 runs were scored in the last 15 overs.

Mandhana eventually became Mlaba’s second victim in the 46th over before Harmanpreet, standing at 88 with four balls remaining, smashed a four, six and a four to end her 20-month wait for her sixth ODI hundred.  

Brief scores: India: 325/3 in 50 overs (Smriti Mandhana 136, Harmanpreet Kaur 103 n.o., Risha Ghosh 25; Nonkululeko Mlaba 2-51) bt South Africa: 321/6 in 50 overs (Laura Wolvaardt 135 n.o., Marizanne Kapp 114, Nadine de Kleck 28; Pooja Vastrakar 2-54, Deepti Sharma 2-56). Result: India won by 4 runs. PoM: Harmanpreet Kaur. 3-match ODI series: India lead 2-0. Next match: June 23.

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Published 19 June 2024, 18:06 IST

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