Vadodara: Debutant Priya Punia starred in injured Smriti Mandhana's absence following a fine bowling performance to set up India's emphatic eight-wicket win over South Africa in the first ODI here on Wednesday.
South Africa struggled with the bat after winning the toss, bowled out for 164 in 45.1 overs. It was an all-round bowling effort from India with Jhulan Goswami (3/33), Shikha Pandey (2/38), Ekta Bisht (2/8) and Poonam Yadav (2/33) sharing the bulk of the wickets.
India cantered to victory in 41.4 overs with openers Punia (75 not out off 124) and Jeminah Rodrigues (55 off 65) laying the foundation for a resounding win. The three-match series is not part of the Women's ODI Championship.
Punia, who has played three T20 Internationals, got the chance to play her maiden ODI after star opener Mandhana was ruled out on the eve of the game due to a fracture on her right toe. The 23-year-old from Jaipur hit eight boundaries.
Rodrigues was back among runs after a lean run in the preceding five-match T20 series and shared an 83-run stand with Punia. It was a second ODI half-century for the highly talented 19-year-old, who smashed seven fours.
It was also captain Mithali Raj's first game for India since March and with that she became the first female to last more than 20 years in international cricket, having made her debut back in June 1999. Raj retired from T20s last month.
After Goswami trapped Lizelle Lee on the first ball of the day, opener Laura Wolvaardt (39) and Trisha Chetty (14) tried to steady the innings.
From 89 for three, South Africa collapsed to 115 for seven. In the end, they did well to post 164 but it turned out to be a comfortable chase for the Indians.
Marizanne Kapp top scored for South Africa with 54 off 64 balls.
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Ranchi, Oct 18: Having lost nine successive tosses in Asia, an exasperated South Africa captain Faf du Plessis won't mind sending "someone else" in his place for the toss of the coin in the third and final Test against India, beginning here Saturday.
South Africa have struggled in Indian conditions and not winning the toss in the first two Tests has only made things tougher for them. Opting to bat in Visakhapatnam and Pune, India put up 500-plus totals to virtually bat the visitors out of the game.
"We really want to make sure that we compete with this team in their own conditions. We have done it in stages in the first Test. So, hoping that we can start with the toss tomorrow.
"Probably we will change... send someone else to the toss tomorrow. I can give you that... because my records so far has not been great," said du Plessis, in a lighter vein, on the eve of the game.
Du Plesiss said "anything is possible" if his side get to bat first.
"If you put big runs in the first innings, that's where it need to stop. Then anything from there is possible. Hopefully that will unfold in the next couple of days and hopefully we can put some runs on.
"The pitch looks a little bit drier and crustier so first innings runs will be vital and then anything from there is possible in the second innings," the South African skipper added.