Mithali Raj credits team effort after dominating victory over South Africa Women

India won the match by 88 runs.

Mithali Raj scored 45 in the match. (Getty)

Mithali Raj-led Indian Women's team defeated South Africa by 88 runs in the first ODI after skittling them out for 125 in 43.2 overs in a chase of 214. The win meant India picked up two points towards the ICC Women's Championship in their first game.

For India, veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami took four wickets with Shikha Pandey chipping in with 3 as India managed to bundle out South Africa for a mere 125 inside 44 overs. 

This happened after opting to bat first, India lost Punam Raut early, after which a 99-run tone-setting partnership between Raj and Smriti Mandhana laid the foundation for India to go ahead and a get a total in excess of 200. Smriti top-scored for India with a 98-ball 84 while Raj scored 45 to set the game up for the lower-order to collect quick runs at the death.

Mithali opined that having a left-right batting combination disturb the South African bowlers from getting into a settled line and length of which India reaped the advantage. 

"I think we do have our gameplan in place for SA bowlers," Raj said after her side's victory at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley on Monday (February 5). "The left-right combination always works, whether you're batting. It troubles you with the field set and the bowlers' rhythm when you have a left-right combination. And it was important for us not to lose another wicket after the loss of Punam Raut because we had to again build a base where the next batters who come in can take the momentum".

Raj concluded saying that they were pretty happy with the total they posted after losing wickets in the powerplay and the pitch getting slower at the end of the Indian innings. 

"Though we lost two wickets in the powerplay and we couldn't put up the total that we were expecting with the kind of start we got, I still think the 200-plus on this wicket was good enough for our bowlers to come back and pick wickets."

"We definitely were aiming around 230 to 250, but [after] losing those back-to-back wickets, we had two new batters during the powerplay. Very rarely can batters take that momentum in the powerplay. Usually, when you have two new batters at the crease, it gets a little difficult. They've to start afresh, build a partnership. But we were almost into the 40th over by then, and we lost two batters in the form of run outs. Overall in the end, even the tail has contributed quick runs in the last five overs to get us to that total."

The Indian men's team on the other end under the leadership of Virat Kohli has looked an altogether different team in the ODIs. They are sitting pretty with a 2-0 lead in the six-match ODI series. 

South Africa on the other end has plagued by injuries. Skipper Faf du Plessis has been ruled out of the series with an injury. AB de Villiers who is already nursing an injury is expected to return in the fourth ODI. However, according to recent reports, he might have aggravated his injury by involving himself in a golf session recently. A wrist injury has ruled out Quinton de Kock after the second ODI at Centurion, thereby making their already feeble batting line up looking more brittle. 

The third men's ODI will be played at Cape Town tomorrow. 


By Anshuman Roy - 06 Feb, 2018

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