Home Sport Cricket India set Proteas massive target in must-win clash

India set Proteas massive target in must-win clash

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India’s Mithali Raj avoids a bouncer bowled by South Africa’s Shabnim Ismail during their Women’s Cricket World Cup match. Picture: Sanka Vidanagama/AFP

Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, captain Mithali Raj all struck half-centuries against the Proteas to power India to one of the biggest first innings scores in the Women’s World Cup.

Cape Town – India’s senior players have all stepped up to the plate in their Women’s World Cup must-win clash against South Africa at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Sunday.

Smriti Mandhana (71), Shafali Verma (53), captain Mithali Raj (68) all struck half-centuries, while Harmanpreet Kaur also contributed a solid 48 to power India to 274/7.

India, of course, have to beat the already qualified South Africa to progress to the semi-finals.

Verma and Mandhana provided the ideal platform for the innings with a 91-run partnership for the first wicket in just 15 overs.

Verma was particularly severe on Shabnim Ismail from the outset with Proteas captain Sune Luus forced to withdraw her talisman from the attack after just three overs.

The charge was certainly on and it was only due to a horrible mix up between Verma and Mandhana that opened the door for South Africa to creep back into the contest.

With the attacking Verma (53 off just 46 balls, 8×4) back in the dugout, South Africa could maintain some form of control especially after Chloe Tryon picked up Yastika Bhatia just five runs later.

Mandhana and Mithali were not though going to let the early advantage slip away as they added another 80 runs for the third wicket in 15.3 overs before Mandhana was brilliantly caught by a diving Tryon at mid-on.

Harmanpreet then joined her skipper Mithali at the crease and the experienced Indian duo maintained the momentum with another 58-run partnership in 10.3 overs as India set their stall for a target in the region of 300.

The fact that the 2017 runners-up fell short of the mark was only due to Ismail returning with vigour at the death. After her conceding 25 runs from her first two overs, Ismail eventually finished with figures of 2/42 as India managed just 53/4 in the final 10 overs.

Ismail was well-supported by the returning Masabata Klaas, who picked up the big wickets of Mandhana and Mithali to stem the tide earlier, as she ended up with 2/38 from her eight overs.

South Africa will certainly still need to bat well to produce their highest ever World Cup run chase with it being a good opportunity for the likes of Lizelle Lee, Lara Goodall and Mignon du Preez to find some form ahead of the semi-finals.

@ZaahierAdams

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