India began their build-up to the women’s Cricket World Cup on a winning note as the Mithali Raj-led side defeated South Africa by two runs in their first warm-up match at the Rangiora Oval on Sunday.
Inserted into batting first, India were dealt with an early blow as batting stalwart Smriti Mandhana took a vicious blow on the head when she was struck by a bouncer from pacer Shabnim Ismail. A team doctor assessed the 25-year-old Mandhana following the incident and originally declared her fit to continue only to retire hurt an over-and-a-half later after another consultation.
At the time Mandhana retired hurt, the left-hander was unbeaten on 12 from 23 deliveries. But the blow did not affect India’s charge in the warm-up game as Harmanpreet Kaur scored a century (103 off 114 deliveries) and top-order batter Yastika Bhatia scored a patient 78-ball 58 to guide the team to 244/9 in their allotted 50 overs.
Yastika was measured in her start, moving into her innings with four boundaries and a six to score an important fifty. Mithali Raj was run out for duck after a mix-up with Yastika.
But India’s innings belonged to Harmanpreet Kaur, who raced along with little risk. The right-hander held the innings together with the lower order, ticking over to three figures in the latter stages of the innings with the help of nine boundaries.
Chasing 245 looked a tricky proposition for South Africa. Eventually, the Proteas fell short despite the work of captain Sune Luus and opening batter Laura Wolvaardt. Luus made a professional 98-ball 86, manipulating the field through smart batting with shots around the wicket, in spite of a green surface and a slow outfield.
Laura was at her devastating best, hitting two sixes to go with seven fours for her knock of 83 off 95 balls, with Marizanne Kapp chipping in with 31 off 39 balls.
But South Africa’s batting efforts were in vain as they couldn’t get eight runs off the final over.
Rajeshwari Gayakwad was the pick of the bowlers for India, claiming 4/46 in her 10 overs. Meghna Singh (1/38), Sneh Rana (1/38) and Poonam Yadav (1/54) were the other wicket takers for India in the warm-up match.
Earlier, there was huge confusion around the result of the match. The scoreboard on the official website of the International Cricket Council (ICC) had stated that South Africa had won by four wickets.
But when the scorer of the match, Arun Kumar Manickavasagam, posted a picture of South Africa’s scoreboard, which showed that India won the match by two runs, the social media went into a state of chaos over the acutal result of the match.
For the next 30 minutes, the official scoreboard on ICC went through many updates about the result till it reached the correct version of the match result.
The result was further confirmed by Yastika through her Twitter account, saying ‘This is the official scoresheet for those enquiring’.
India’s next warm-up match in the Women’s World Cup will now be against the West Indies on Tuesday at the Rangiora Oval.
Brief scores: India Women 244/9 in 50 overs (Harmanpreet Kaur 103, Yastika Bhatia 58; Ayabonga Khaka 3/23) beat South African Women 242/7 in 50 overs (Sune Luus 86, Laura Wolvaardt 83; Rajeshwari Gayakwad 4/46) by two runs.