Lucknow: Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt shared the highest opening wicket stand against an under-prepared India to give South Africa an emphatic eight-wicket win in the first ODI of the five match series on Sunday.
Asked to bat, India never got the momentum it needed and could only manage 177 for nine despite sedate fifty from skipper Mithali Raj (50 off 85) and a quick-fire 40 off 41 balls from her deputy Harmanpreet Kaur.
Lee (83 not out off 122) and Wolvaardt (80 off 110) helped South Africa chased down the target in 40.1 overs with a record 169-run stand.
India would quickly like to forget their first outing in 12 months and come back much stronger in the next game against a side which has come into the series with substantial game time.
The South African opening duo did not look any sort of trouble against the India pacers as well as their highly rated spinners. Lee smashed 11 fours and a six while Wolvaardt collected 12 boundaries.
Veteran India pacer Jhulan Goswami (2/38), playing her first game since November 2019, was the most impressive in an otherwise disappointing bowling effort. Debutant pacer Monica Patel got only four overs in which she conceded 20 runs.
The spin-bowling troika of Rajeshwari Gaekward, Deepti Sharma and Poonam Yadav failed to provide any breakthroughs that were needed to keep India in the game.
Earlier, the 62-run stand between Raj and Kaur steadied the innings after India lost their first three wickets for 40 runs, including star opener Smrit Mandhana (14 off 20), who looked in sublime touch during her short stay.
Harmanpreet, playing her 100th ODI, looked ominous but played one big shot too many to be caught at long off. She smashed six boundaries in her entertaining knock.
Raj, who took some time to get going in her first game since November 2019, then shared a 52-run partnership with Deepti Sharma (27 off 46) to keep the innings moving. But her dismissal off a full-toss triggered a collapse that saw India reeling at 160 for eight from 154 for four.
The skipper's innings comprised four boundaries and a six.
Senior South Africa pacer Shabnim Ismail was the pick of the bowlers, taking three wickets for 28 runs in 10 overs.
Indian players did not get to play in the last 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic while South Africa recently beat Pakistan 3-0 at home.
India: 177 for 9 in 50 overs (Mithali Raj 50, Harmanpreet Kaur 40, Deepti Sharma 27; Shabnim Ismail 3/28, N Mlaba 2/41).
South Africa (Lizelle Lee 83 not out, Laura Wolvaardt 80; Jhulan Goswami 2/38).
South Africa win by eight wickets.
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