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Sports


Mandhana, Sobhana steal show in women's ODI series opener against SA

Mandhana, Sobhana steal show in women's ODI series opener against SA

By BD Narayankar

Bengaluru, June 16 (UNI) M Chinnaswamy Stadium witnessed a spectacle on Sunday, as India and South Africa clashed in the thrilling opener of the Women's ODI series. Amidst the roar of the fans, two names emerged as the protagonists of this cricketing saga: Smriti Mandhana and debutant Asha Sobhana.

Mandhana, the beacon of Indian cricket, dazzled the audience with her exquisite century. Facing the adversity of early wickets, she stood tall, crafting an innings of sheer brilliance that guided India to a formidable total. Her strokes were poetry in motion, a testament to her talent and resilience under pressure.

Team India found themselves in early trouble, with Shafali Verma (7) and Dayalan Hemalatha (12) falling cheaply. Captain Harmanpreet Kaur (10) also failed to leave a mark, as South Africa's bowlers capitalised on these early breakthroughs. At 99 for 5, India's prospects looked grim.

Yet, amidst the adversity, Mandhana's resilience shone through. She anchored the innings and forged a crucial 81-run partnership with Deepti Sharma (37 off 48), which turned the tide in India's favour. Mandhana's composure under pressure and her ability to find gaps and play exquisite shots were a testament to her class.

Even after Deepti's untimely dismissal, which could have stalled India's progress, Mandhana continued to lead the charge. Her innings, an exhibition of poise and power, saw her accumulate 117 runs off 112 balls, peppered with 11 boundaries and a towering six. Her magnificent century not only stabilised the innings but also laid a robust foundation for the team.

Mandhana eventually fell in the deep towards the innings' close, but her contribution had already set a commanding tone. Late flourishes from Pooja Vastrakar (31*) and a final-over boundary by Sobhana Asha (8*) added crucial runs, pushing India to a competitive total.

Yet, amidst Mandhana's brilliance, a new star was born. Sobhana, making her international debut, showcased nerves of steel as she weaved her magic with the ball. Her crafty spin left the South African batters bewildered, claiming four crucial wickets and announcing her arrival on the grand stage.

As the sun went down the horizon, Mandhana and Sobhana stood side by side, their faces beaming with pride and determination. Their performances not only secured victory for India but also hinted at a promising future for Indian cricket.

India's fielding lapses were evident, but Renuka Singh's crucial wicket and overall dominance ensured their control over the match. South Africa's resistance through Marizanne Kapp (24 off 39), Sune Luus ((33 off 58), and Sinalo Jafta (27* off 30) wasn't enough to sway the game in their favour.

As the series progresses, the spotlight will remain on these two teams as they battle for supremacy on the cricket stage. With pitches favouring spin, South Africa faces a daunting challenge ahead. How they adapt will determine the outcome of this enthralling contest.

Brief scores: India 265/8 in 50 overs (Smriti Mandhana 117, Deepti Sharma 37, Pooja Vastrakar 31*; Ayabonga Khaka 3-47, Masabata Klaas 2-51) beat South Africa 122 all out in 37.4 overs (Sinalo Jafta 27*, Marizanne Kapp 24; Asha Sobhana 4-21, Deepti Sharma 2-10) by 143 runs.

UNI BDN ING

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