Mithali Raj    Getty Images
Mithali Raj Getty Images

India Women, led by Mithali Ra, sailed past South Africa Women in their tour opener by winning the first ODI by 88 runs. Smriti Mandhana’s 84 and Mithali’s 45 laid the platform at Diamond Oval, Kimberley courtesy a 99-run stand. The left-right combination troubled the South Africans, but they posted a comeback to restrict India for 213 for 7. Nonetheless, Mithali stated that a 200-plus total was enough on a slow wicket. Read what made her remain so confident the a lower-order collapse, from 154 for 1 to 168 for 5, and later managing just above 200.

“I think we do have our gameplan in place for South Africa bowlers. A 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 (19) because we had to again build a base where the next batters who come in can take the momentum.

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,” stated Mithali.

Jhulan Goswami, Poonam Yadav and Shikha Pandey derailed South Africa’s progress with the bat. They were never in the hunt and collapsed to 125 in 42.3 overs. Jhulan, with 4 for 24, currently has 199 wickets, and would become the first woman cricketer to claim 200 scalps.

Though India once again faltered to finish the innings in style (remember the World Cup final collapse, don’t you?), Mithali backed her tail-enders to hang in there and push the total above 200.

“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,” concluded Mithali.

Courtesy a thumping win, India also earned two vital points towards ICC Women’s Championship.