In-form India Women look to conquer Windies after drubbing South Africa

Having swept the three-match series 3-0 against South Africa, India Women gear up for the West Indies challenge which commences in two weeks. The tour consists of three ODIs and five T20Is.

Mithali Raj receives the series winning trophy at the end of the third and final ODI between India and South Africa.   -  Vijay Soneji

On the eve of the three-match women’s ODI series between India and South Africa at the Reliance Cricket Ground here, South Africa head coach Hilton Moreeng stated that his batters must stand their ground for his team to do well.

His call went unheard, allowing India to complete a 3-0 sweep. The Indian spin trio of Ekta Bisht, Poonam Yadav and Deepti Sharma proved to be much too tricky for the visitor, while the pacers Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey did well on the slow, low pitch by keeping a tight line.

Left-arm spinner Ekta finished with seven wickets - the highest of the series. Her generous flight posed a severe test of patience and technique, and the Proteas were simply not up to the task. Rajeshwari Gayakwad - called up for the dead rubber third ODI – came to the party as well with a crucial two for 22 spell.

The Indian bowlers effectively won the series by keeping the visitor down to sub-par scores - 164 and 140 – in the first and third ODIs respectively. The best performance was reserved for the third ODI, when India defended just 145. They kept the pressure on throughout the innings, until the South Africans finally folded.

The batters came to the fore in the second ODI. Brilliant knocks from Punam Raut (65), Mithali Raj (66) and Harmanpreet Kaur (39 n.o.) powered India to its highest-ever ODI chase, underlining the batting depth in the unit.

The strong middle-order ensured that the absence of regular opener Smriti Mandhana did not affect the side a great deal.

Mandhana’s replacement, Priya Punia, started with a solid 75 in her ODI debut, though the next two outings yielded only 20 runs. Priya, however, displayed good technique and temperament for 50-over cricket, and is bound to be in the long-term plans of the team management.

Priya’s opening partner Jemimah Rodrigues added to her reputation as an exciting talent with a 65-ball 55 in the first ODI. The fearless Jemimah has all the shots in the book.

The Indian team is in great shape going into the limited-over away series against West Indies, which commences in two weeks. The tour consists of three ODIs and five T20Is.