India held its nerve to record a five-wicket win over South Africa in the second women’s ODI at Reliance Cricket ground here on Friday. Chasing a stiff 248-run target, the home team was cruising with Mithali Raj (66, 82b, 4×8) and Punam Raut (65, 92b, 7×4) at the crease, until the duo fell within the space of four balls.
From a comfortable 195 for two, India slipped and let South Africa back into the contest. Harmanpreet Kaur (39 n.o., 27b, 5×4, 1×6), however, came in and took her team past the finish line with 12 balls to spare.
The exciting win gave India an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series. It marked the nation’s highest-ever successful ODI chase, bettering the previous target of 245 (against South Africa in February 2017).
It was Mithali and Punam who laid a solid foundation, adding 129 runs for the third wicket. They dispatched the loose stuff to the boundary, and ran briskly between the wickets.
Mithali reached her 53rd ODI fifty with a single to long-on, but with no scoreboard at the ground, she did not realise that she had reached the milestone. She later got the message, and raised her bat to the crowd.
Punam was a tad more cautious than Mithali, but equally effective. Both Mithali and Punam eventually fell to poor shot selection, with Mithali slashing hard outside off and Punam attempting a dangerous scoop.
The home team was helped by some wayward bowling from South Africa, which sent down 29 wides.
Put in, South Africa came up with a much improved show to post a competitive total. Openers Lizelle Lee (40, 54b) and Laura Wolvaardt (69, 98b) were in fine touch during their 76-run partnership.
Mignon du Preez (44, 48b, 2×4, 1×6) and southpaw Lara Goodall (38, 32b, 5×4) attacked in the middle and late overs, keeping the score moving at a healthy rate.
Shikha Pandey, Ekta Bisht and Poonam Yadav picked up two wickets each.
The match was briefly halted when a dog ran onto the field during the Indian innings. Several ground security officials rushed to catch the intruder, but the dog proved too quick for them.
After hanging out near the boundary rope for a short while, the dog made its way out of the open gate door to huge applause from the amused crowd.