Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana Lead India to Record Breaking 525 Runs Day in Chennai

Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana produced an incredible batting exhibition, leading India to a record-breaking 525 runs on the first day of the Only Women’s Test match between India and South Africa in Chennai.

The opening partnership of 292 runs enabled India’s top six to amass 525 runs, the highest total in a Women’s Test match day.

Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana Lead India to Record Breaking 525 Runs Day in Chennai
Photo Credit: ESPNcricinfo

India 525 for 4 (Shafali 205, Mandhana 149, Tucker 2-141) vs South Africa.

There is no greater contrast in red-ball cricket than that between South Africa and India. Shafali Verma’s phenomenal 205 destroyed the bowlers. Smriti Mandhana scored an outstanding 149 in the one-off Test in Chennai to continue her Bengaluru ODI record.

In this format, Jemimah Rodrigues, in her third half-century, exuded sophistication. India, who were playing against an A side, stymied South Africa’s attack and amassed an absurd amount of runs—525, to be exact—the most by any team in Test history in a single day of play.

India chose to bat first on a red-soil surface after winning the toss and choosing to be conservative in the first hour. They did not hit all of their full tosses to boundaries, but they still managed to score 130 in the early session.

While South Africa struggled most of the time to get the ball to the proper length for the designated fielding positions, they did bowl well in spurts. Marizanne Kapp wasted a half-chance when Mandhana pushed one to midwicket on 33, which was the first serious opportunity. However, Mandhana and Shafali calmed off and stopped putting weak deliveries at boundaries.

But India picked up speed in the afternoon session. In just 32 overs, they amassed 204 runs and claimed just two wickets during that session. Shafali, who made her first double century in a Test match, was a good gap-setter, scoring 148 runs on the on side. Eight of her fours were thrown towards square leg and long on, and five of her eight sixes were sent in the direction of long on.

Shafali looked confident in whites during her 197-ball knock on Friday, setting a record 292-run stand with Mandhana, following a disappointing run in the One-Day Internationals where she was dismissed trying to take on the bowlers early on.

In her 161-ball innings, Mandhana, who also had a strong strike rate of 92.54, blasted 27 fours and one six. Her 11 fours came from eye-catching cover drives, which were the highlight of the innings.

She was quick to knock it away to square leg and midwicket for fours, though, once players like Nadine de Klerk and Masabata Klass dropped the length. In the 39th and 40th overs, the pair achieved three digits on successive balls. It was Mandhana’s third century in four international matches across all formats.

In an attempt to get a single to reach 150, Mandhana nicked one to first slip, and it took 52 overs for South Africa to break the opening stand. But Shafali continued to march, keeping the scorecard ticking quickly with her powerful wrists.

Shubha Satheesh, who missed the most recent Test match against Australia in December because of a finger fracture, looked strong in her 27-ball 15. However, at the last moment, she lost one to keeper Sinalo Jafta, who had missed the last two One-Day Internationals because of a mild concussion. By the end of the second session, India were 334 for 2, severely undermining the confidence of the South African bowlers.

Also Read: Mandhana and Arundhati Lead India to 3-0 Sweep Victory Over South Africa

Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana Lead India to Record Breaking 525 Runs Day in Chennai
Photo Credit: ESPNcricinfo

Shafali and Rodrigues transformed her 150 to 200 in the last session, with the audience of about 3,000 people at Chepauk applauding her push to long-off in the 73rd over. Together, they scored a quick 86 runs off 91 balls, with Shafali scoring 48 off 31 balls and Rodrigues scoring 38 off 60.

However, Shafali’s tenure was cut short by a disastrous error in the 75th over. Chennai puts even the most skilled athletes’ stamina to the test in long-format games. Shafali, 20, not only made it through the sweltering day, but she also performed admirably in her maiden international match at this location.

When Laura Wolvaardt called on seven of her players to bowl, it was clear that South Africa was working hard to control and take up wickets. Even so, it took the skipper more than 80 overs to introduce an accomplished Sune Luus, who is now bowling off-spin rather than legspin. But Luus, in her three-over surge, even hit five runs an over. Towards the end of the playday, the surface gave some turn, but for the most part, bowlers in the morning session had little opportunity to move in the air or seam off the surface.

While Harmanpreet and Richa Ghosh continued to play unbeaten at 42 and 43, respectively, Rodrigues scored 55. Delmi Tucker took two wickets for South Africa in her 26 overs of bowling.

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