Mandhana hundred, Asha's dream debut help India to massive win

Smriti Mandhana scored 117 off 127 to register her maiden ODI hundred in India

Shajin Mohanan S
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Smriti Mandhana

Smriti Mandhana celebrates her hundred © BCCI

Smriti Mandhana's first century at home and debutant Asha Sobhana's four-wicket haul helped India thump South Africa by 143 runs in the first ODI at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday (June 16). Mandhana's hundred took India from 99 for 5 to 265 for 8 before the bowlers skittled the visitors out for just 122 in 37.4 overs. The all-format series will continue with two more ODIs in Bengaluru before moving to Chennai for the one-off Women's Test and three T20Is.

Opting to bat first on a day where rain stayed away, despite Mandhana's efforts, India were in a bit of strife as they lost five wickets before the scoreboard clocked 100. Shafali Verma fell early to a good catch behind the stumps by Sinalo Jafta off Masabata Klaas, Dayalan Hemalatha skied one off Nonkululeko Mlaba and Harmanpreet Kaur became Annerie Dercksen's maiden ODI wicket. 

Although Jemimah Rodrigues tried to steady the ship, she also departed when Marizanne Kapp - playing only as a batter and a fielder owing to precautionary measures for her back issues - pulled off a stunner at deep mid-wicket. Richa Ghosh didn't last long either.

Even as wickets kept tumbling at the other end, Mandhana stayed calm and guided India through some tricky situation. The left-hander brought up her half-century from 61 balls and she found an able partner in fellow southpaw Deepti Sharma.

"Deepti (Sharma) and I kept telling each other to take it till the 35th over in singles and twos. Five or six runs per over was on because they had spread the field. Playing ODI cricket after a long time, in the nets, it was hard to keep my shots under control. After playing T20 cricket like we have for the last five-six months, it's hard to control your shots," Mandhana said during the mid-innings break.

The duo added 81 runs for the sixth wicket to put India's innings back on track and post Deepti's dismissal and despite cramping up, Mandhana kept going and formed another partnership with Pooja Vastrakar.

The 27-year-old eventually went past her highest score on home soil - 86 she scored against England in 2018 was her previous best - and brought up her maiden century at home from 116 balls. This was her second century against the protea women. Her career-best score of 135 also came against the same opponent back in 2018.

"I knew I hadn't socred a century in India, but that didn't come in my mind when I was batting. More than the hundred, happy we got to 260 plus (score). It was a little two-paced wicket. It wasn't a bad wicket. I think the odd ball was keeping low, the odd ball was rising. [It] was important to play according to the merit (of the ball)," Mandhana added.  

Once Mandhana was dismissed for 117, Vastrakar and Asha played a few shots to take India over the 250-run mark and they eventually ended their innings on 265 for 8.

In the chase, South Africa needed their skipper Laura Wolvaardt to give them a great start. But once again Renuka Singh Thakur came through for India in the first over and dismissed Wolvaardt with a delivery that came in sharply to clip the bail on the top of off stump.

Anneke Bosch and Tazmin Brits also didn't last any longer and South Africa were reduced to 33 for 3 in 10.1 overs. Although Kapp and Sune Luus added 39 runs from there, it was never going to be enough and Asha took over from there for India in the company of Deepti and Radha Yadav.

Introduced into the attack as the fifth bowler, Asha picked up Kapp as her maiden ODI wicket and again came back at the end to pick up three more wickets to register a four-fer on debut. The leg spinner got the ball to turn sharply and used her variations to good effect with great control. 

South Africa were eventually bowled out for 122 in the 38th over despite India losing Vastrakar to what looked like a knee injury. India will be hoping for the the allrounder to be fit in time for the second ODI that's scheduled to be played on June 19 at the same venue.

Brief Scores: India 265/8 in 50 overs (Smriti Mandhana 117, Deepti Sharma 37; Ayabonga Khaka 3/47) beat South Africa 122/10 in 37.4 overs (Sune Luus 33; Asha Sobhana 4/21, Deepti Sharma 2/10) by 143 runs POTM: Smriti Mandhana