INDW vs SAW: Mithali, Punam hand host 2-0 series lead

India survives a few late nerves in its chase of 248; Harmanpreet Kaur provides finishing touches.

In full flow: Mithali Raj en route to her 66. She added 129 runs for the third wicket with Punam Raut.   -  Vijay Soneji

India survived a few late nerves to record a five-wicket victory over South Africa in the second women’s ODI, at Reliance Cricket Ground here on Friday.

Chasing a stiff 248-run target, the home team was cruising with Mithali Raj (66, 82b, 4x8) and Punam Raut (65, 92b, 7x4) at the crease, until the duo fell within the space of four balls. From a comfortable 195 for two, India slipped and let South Africa back into the contest. Harmanpreet Kaur (39 n.o., 27b, 5x4, 1x6), however, came in and blasted her team past the finish line with 12 deliveries to spare.

AS IT HAPPENED

The exciting win gave India an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series. It marked the nation’s highest-ever successful ODI chase, bettering the previous target of 245 (against South Africa in February 2017).

Solid foundation

Mithali and Punam laid a solid foundation, putting on 129 runs for the third wicket. They dispatched the loose stuff to the boundary, and ran briskly between the wickets. Mithali reached her 53rd ODI fifty with a single to long-on, but with no scoreboard at the ground, she did not realise that she had reached the milestone. She later got the message, and raised her bat to acknowledge the crowd. Punam was a tad more cautious than Mithali, but just as effective. Both Mithali and Punam eventually fell to poor shot selection, with Mithali slashing hard outside off and Punam attempting a dangerous scoop.

The home team was helped by some wayward bowling from South Africa, which sent down no less than 29 wides.

Half-century for Wolvaart

After being put in to bat, South Africa put up a much improved show as compared to its previous game to post a good score. Openers Lizelle Lee (40, 54b) and Laura Wolvaardt (69, 98b) were in fine touch during their 76-run partnership. Mignon du Preez (44, 48b, 2x4, 1x6) and southpaw Lara Goodall (38, 32b, 5x4) attacked in the middle and late overs, keeping the score moving at a healthy rate.

Shikha Pandey, Ekta Bisht and Poonam Yadav picked up two wickets each.

The match was briefly halted when a playful dog ran on to the field during the Indian innings. Several ground security officials rushed to catch the intruder, but the dog was much too quick for them. After hanging out near the boundary rope for a short while, the dog made its way out of the open gate door to huge applause from the amused crowd.

Brief Scores

South Africa 247 for 6 in 50 overs (Laura Wolvaardt 69, Mignon du Preez 44, Lizelle Lee 40) lost to India 248 for 5 in 48 overs (Mithali Raj 66, Punam Raut 65, Ayabonga 3 for 69) by five wickets.