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Ton-up Smriti, spinners hand India massive 143-run win over South Africa in 1st ODI

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BENGALURU: Smriti Mandhana’s resolute hundred and a disciplined bowling effort, led by spinners Deepti Sharma and Asha Shobana, piloted India to a huge 143-run win over South Africa in the first women’s ODI here on Sunday.
India now lead the three-match series 1-0, and the second game will be played here on June 19.
Mandhana’s sixth ODI century (117, 127 balls , 12x4s, 1×6) formed the fulcrum of India’s competitive 265 for eight on a sluggish Chinnaswamy pitch.
Then the Indian bowlers worked their magic around the South African batters to bowl out the visitors for 122 as debutante leg-spinner Asha (4/21) led the show with a frugal spell and was well-supported by offie Deepti (2/10).
Pacer Renuka Singh (1/30) gave India the perfect start, dismissing the in-form South Africa skipper Laura Wolvaardt in the first over itself.
Wolvaardt had no answer for an excellent nip-backer from Renuka that clipped the top of her off-stump.
The Indians soon fetched the wickets of Tazmine Brits and Anneke Bosch as the tourists slumped to 33 for three.
The experienced Marizane Kapp (24, 39 balls), who hammered Renuka for successive four and six, tried to revive the innings with Sune Luus who fought well with a 33.
But their fourth wicket alliance of 39 runs consumed 68 balls as the asking rate climbed over seven which never really came down thereafter.
Asha ended that struggle when the leg-spinner had Kapp caught at covers by Harmanpreet Kaur.
At five down for 74, South Africa were always facing the climb up the hill.
Earlier, India’s script for victory was written by Mandhana, who thrilled the home crowd with a well-paced hundred.
Mandhana stitched two significant partnerships with the feisty Deepti (37, 48 balls, 3x4s) and Pooja Vastrakar (31 not out) to take India out of trouble after the hosts found themselves at 99 for five at one stage.
Mandhana and Deepti added 81 runs (92 balls) for the sixth wicket and Pooja, who had to leave the field later with a knee niggle while fielding, assisted the Indian vice-captain to make 58 runs (54 balls) for the seventh wicket.
Mandhana has a lot of flair in her batting.
But here she was forced to eschew that because of the team situation and the sluggish nature of the pitch to which India top-order batters like Shafali Verma (7), Harmanpreet (10) and Jemimah Rodrigues (17) failed to adapt, leading to their soft dismissals.

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