Quite like the first ODI at Kimberly, the second game at the same ground once again had Smriti Mandhana written all over it. Carrying on from where she’d left on February 5, Mandhana, in fiery form, notched up her third limited-overs hundred, a blasting 135 to enable India to trump South Africa comfortably.
Ever since India’s massive total of 303 came about, South Africa- too jaded and underwhelming a batting side- had no clue in their run chase as Mithali Raj’s bowlers went about dissecting their opponents bit by bit in grabbing an impeccable 175 run victory, their highest in South Africa by a margin of runs.
By virtue of Smriti Mandhana’s excellent 135, another international hundred, having scored two previous tons against England and Australia in the respective countries, India has now earned an unassailable lead in the series. An innings laced by 14 boundaries and 1 half a dozen, Madhana looked a batswoman in charge from the word go, middling the ball from the meat of the bat and scoring on either side of the wicket, reducing a powerful Protean attach featuring Dane Van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp.
But it wasn’t that Mandhana was the only batswoman among the runs. Playing her 80th ODI, Harmanpreet Kaur notched up her 11th fifty, a quickfire, breezy 55 not out, finding great company in right-hander Veda Krishnamurthy, who contributed with an unbeaten 51. Right from the start at Smriti Mandhana took a grip of the conditions on a seemingly batting-friendly track, her partner, Punam Raut and number three legend, Mithali Raj struggled to get going, contributing paltry scores of 20 apiece. Apart from leg-spinner, SuneLuus, no other Protean bowler looked the part of an able competitor as Mandhana began freeing her arms, in sending the fielders for some tedious work in her incredible knock.
In the run chase, no other South African batswoman apart from Lizelle Lee, finishing with an impressive but ineffective 75-ball 73 looked comfortable- whether against spin or pace. Tailender Marizanne Kapp, only one of the two South African batswomen were able to reach a score beyond 15, albeit registering a lowly 17. The reason for India exerting pressure? Leg-spinner Poonam Yadav, who scalped a memorable 4-24 as other spinners- Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Deepti Sharma– chipped in with two wickets apiece.
That being said, one of the highlights of the day was experienced fast bowler Jhulan Goswami, who reached a rare high in the women’s game, becoming the only cricketer to scalp 200 ODI wickets, when she removed arguably South Africa’s most dogged willpower in Laura Woolvardt. With the series lost and South Africa having been dashed to the ground, it is about time their talents raised the competition in all aspects of the game, least of all batting, having failed on two successive occasions to even compile a score within the proximity of 150.