India were given a big jolt in the semi-final with Smriti Mandhana being ruled out of the series vs South Africa. However, the women's cricket team showed that there was still plenty of depth in their talent as they continued their dominance over South Africa. Priya Punia made her debut and showed her mettle at the big stage with an unbeaten 75 and backed by superb spells from Jhulan Goswami and Poonam Yadav, India won the match by eight wickets at the Reliance Stadium in Vadodara to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
South Africa chose to bat and they lost Lizelle Lee in the first ball of the match. Laura Woolvardt kept the momentum going with some aggressive strokes but she lacked support. The spin of Ekta Bisht, Deepti Sharma and Poonam Yadav once again choked South Africa in the middle overs as they lost four wickets for 16 runs.
Marizanne Kapp, who plays for Sydney Sixers in the Women's Big Bash League, staged a recovery and she notched up her fifty but South Africa were still bowled out for 164 in 45.1 overs. In response, Priya Punia and Jemimah Rodrigues started well and they took the attack to the South African pacers. Both found the boundary on a regular basis and they shared an 83-run opening stand, with Rodrigues smashing 55.
Priya Punia carried on and notched up her maiden fifty. Punam Raut and Mithali Raj ensured there were no further hiccups and India won the match by a convicing margin. The next match will take place on October 11 at the same venue. The third and final ODI will take place on October 14. The ongoing series is not part of the ICC Women's ODI Championship.
The BCCI have announced that Pooja Vastrakar will join the ODI squad in place of Mandhana, with the left-hander's return to the Indian team still uncertain after suffering a fractured toe. Mandhana will start her rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) soon.