Smriti Mandhana’s 117 and Asha Sobhana’s 4 Wickets Haul Lead India to Victory Against South Africa

Smriti Mandhana’s resilient century and Asha Sobhana’s impressive debut bowling performance propelled India to a commanding win over South Africa in the first women’s ODI.

After choosing to bat first, India found themselves in a precarious position at 99 for 5. Mandhana’s remarkable 117, her sixth ODI century and first on home soil, anchored India’s recovery.

Smriti Mandhana’s 117 and Asha Sobhana’s 4 Wickets Haul Lead India to Victory Against South Africa
India's camp was beaming following their 143-run triumph over South Africa. Photo Credit: BCCI

South Africa 122 (Kapp 33, Asha 4-21) lost to India 265 for 8 (Mandhana 117, Khaka 3-47) by 143 runs.

The hosts were saved by Mandhana’s 117, their sixth century in One-Day Internationals and first at home, after they elected to bat first but collapsed quickly. After the fifth wicket fell, India scored the most runs in a women’s ODI history—166 runs—to raise their total from 99 for 5 to 265 for 8. South Africa, who had a lackluster performance with the bat on a field that gave inconsistent bounce and turn, was unable to match India’s total.

After South Africa lost Laura Wolvaardt, the returning Tazmin Brits, and Anneke Bosch for 33 runs, the chase got off to a rough start. At the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Marizanne Kapp and Sune Luus contributed momentarily, but none of the hitters were able to neutralize the spin menace. With four wickets to help India defeat the visitors for 122 runs, Asha made her debut without exhibiting any signs of nervousness. India won by 143 runs.

Asha received the ODI cap one month after making her debut for her country at the age of 33 in the T20Is against Bangladesh, making her the oldest debutante in the history of this format as well. She was assigned a position ahead of Shreyanka Patil, the offspinner. It was widely known following the WPL that Asha had a tendency for taking huge wickets under duress. She demonstrated her poise and maturity on Sunday as well, helping India get the upper hand.

Thanks to Kapp and Luus’s relationship, South Africa gradually found a way to re-enter the game after India’s pacers and Deepti Sharma had stifled their top order. After the third wicket fell, the two had batted for almost ten overs, and India knew that a well-positioned Kapp could shift the course of the match.

In the 19th over, Asha returned for her second session of bowling, having gone two overs for eight runs. With just two runs let up in the first innings, the legspinner had enough turn and drift to impede the scoring. She floated one outside off this time, slow through the air, to trick Kapp and compel her to hit in the air towards cover where Harmanpreet was stationed. 

Earlier, she had mostly stuck to length deliveries in her first few overs. Asha was thrilled to get her first ODI wicket after one of India’s top fielders made an easy catch.

Jemimah Rodrigues dropped Annerie Dercksen at point in her subsequent over, but Dercksen’s innings was cut short when she was run out at the striker’s end due to an error between her and Luus. South Africa were virtually out of the match at 75 for 5.

Rodrigues and D Hemalatha were back in the XI. Hemalatha found her way into the ODI lineup following strong performances against Bangladesh, while Rodrigues was recuperating from a back ache that had kept him out of the Bangladesh T20I series.

Also Read: ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Winners List (1973-2023) Full Winners And Runners List

Head coach Amol Muzumdar stated during India’s final ODI series against Australia in December that Richa Ghosh would be a good fit for No. 3, with Harmanpreet and Rodrigues following her. She was used as a finisher in her former function; this was a change. On Sunday, nevertheless, Hemalatha was ranked third since Shafali Verma left early to take a position seven. She died following a 16-ball 12. India’s Nos. 4 and 5 were Rodrigues and Harmanpreet, while Ghosh was back in the lower middle order at No. 6. After surviving four balls, she was caught for three more.

In the 22nd over, India’s score dropped from 92 for 3 to 99 for 5, and they were in dire need of a significant partnership. After a six-month break, players are likely to be rusty in an ODI. However, Mandhana did not. She and Deepti Sharma put on a fast-paced 81-run partnership for the sixth wicket, propelling the team beyond the 250 mark. The India vice-captain controlled her aggressive tendency to play along the ground to play long after switching to the long format.

Smriti Mandhana’s 117 and Asha Sobhana’s 4 Wickets Haul Lead India to Victory Against South Africa
With a vital sixth-wicket stand, Smriti Mandhana and Deepti Sharma steadied India's shaky ship. Photo Credit: BCCI

Several Indian batsmen, including Dercksen and Ayobhanga Khaka, attempted to reach a stump-to-stump line, but South Africa held them back. However, Mandhana reacted skillfully, playing her pull and cut shots to create runs whenever the chance presented itself by utilizing the crease. There were opportunities to turn the ones into twos, even though she and Deepti kept the scorecard running.

Mandhana scored a six and twelve fours, seven of which were on the leg side. She exuded peace and clarity. She batted cramping after 32 overs while reaching a hundred. However, it also made her give up on the singles and quickly set some boundaries.

Pooja Vastrakar joined Mandhana after Deepti left for 37, and the two cobbled together a 58-run stand off 54 deliveries to give India the late surge they needed. In the final 10 overs, South Africa let their guard down and gave up 74 runs; the humidity was a big contributing reason to their careless fielding.

Mandhana made 117 after 193 minutes of play and 42.3 overs altogether. Ultimately, South Africa was only able to produce five points higher than her score.

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