After winning the T20I series 3-1, India Women continued their dominance as they defeated South Africa Women by eight wickets and 50 balls remaining in the first ODI at the Reliance Stadium at Vadodara. The Indian camp went without their star opener Smriti Mandhana, who was out with a toe injury. She was replaced by debutant Priya Punia.
Electing to bat first, South Africa Women got off to the worst possible start when experienced bowler Jhulan Goswami picked up the wicket of Lizelle Lee on the first ball of the match, catching her plumb in front of the wicket. The Indian bowlers looked on song today, bowling impeccable lines and lengths to cramp the South African women for any room. The visiting side failed to bat out the full quota of overs as India bundled them out for only 164 in 45.1 overs.
Jhulan Goswami ended with match figures of three for 33, while Shikha Pandey, Ekta Bisht, and Poonam Yadav took two wickets each.
In reply, debutant Punia remained unbeaten on 75 runs off 124 balls as India chased down the target in only 41.4 overs. Openers Punia and hard-hitter Jemimah Rodrigues shared an opening stand of 83 to lay down a strong foundation for captain Mithali Raj and Punam Raut to finish the proceedings. Captain Mithali Raj remained not out on 11 off 24 balls.
But the highlight of the show was Punia, who was playing her first One Day International. She played the supporting role to Jemimah Rodrigues, who went all guns blazing scoring seven boundaries in a score of 55 off 65 deliveries. Priya Punia won the player-of-the-match award for her solid performance, helping India take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Three T20Is old Punia represented the Supernovas in the inaugural edition of the Women’s T20 Challenge held earlier in the year. Punia made her first domestic appearance in a T20 against Hyderabad for Delhi women’s team in 2016 at Bengaluru. She also represented North Zone and scored heavily to catch everyone’s eye. She made her international debut against Australia at Mumbai.