Smriti, spinners guide India to big win over South Africa

India women beat South Africa by 178 runs to clinch the three-match ODI series, which is the first-round fixture of the ICC Women's Championship.

Smriti Mandhana belted a 129-ball 135, laced with 14 fours and a six.   -  Getty Images

India opener Smriti Mandhana scored a scintillating 135 to help the India hammer South Africa by 178 runs and take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match one-day series, part of the ICC Women's Championship at Kimberly on Wednesday. By clinching the series, India women have taken the first step in the right direction to qualify for the 2021 World Cup too.

Smriti belted a 129-ball 135, laced with 14 fours and a six, while vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur (55*, 69 balls 4x2, 6x1) and Veda Krishnamurthy (51*, 33 balls 4x6, 6x1) pressed the accelerator to guide the visitors to a mammoth 302/3.

India then rode on impressive spin bowling from leg-spinner Poonam Yadav (4/24), left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad (2/14), off-spinner Deepti Sharma 2/34) to bowl out the host for 124 in 30.5 overs.

Right-handed opening batswoman Lizelle Lee waged a lonely battle for the host, scoring 73 off 75 deliveries. Apart from Lizelle, who notched her 13th fifty, Marizanne Kapp (17) was the only other South African who managed to reach double-digit score.

Earlier, put in to bat, India got off to a flier with Smriti and Poonam Raut (20, 37 balls, 4x3) putting on 56 runs, before Poonam departed caught behind by Trisha Chetty off pacer Marizanne.

Her dismissal brought in skipper Mithali Raj (20 in 34 balls, 4x1), and the experienced Indian captain added 51 runs with Smriti, who by then had crossed her half century off 64 deliveries.

With India in a spot of bother losing two wickets for 107, Harmanpreet joined forces with Smriti and the duo frustrated the South Africans with quality strokeplay.

Smriti, who struck a 98-ball 84 in the opening match, took her time and smartly got to the three-figure mark off 116 balls, before taking the attack to the opposition, resulting in a 134-run third wicket stand with Harmanpreet.

Just when it appeared that the duo would bat the host out of the game, off-spinner Raisibe Ntozakhe struck with the crucial wicket of Smriti, who registered her third ODI century.

But the joy was short-lived for the Protea women with Veda going all guns blazing for her 33-ball half century, which resulted in a 61-run undefeated stand with Harmanpreet.

Brief scores: India 302/3 (Smriti Mandhana 135, Harmanpreet Kaur 55*, Veda Krishnamurthy 51*) bt South Africa 124 in 30.5 overs (Lizelle Lee 73, Poonam Yadav 4/24, Rajeshwari Gayakwad 2/14, Deepti Sharma 2/34).