Raj, Mandhana blast India women to emphatic victory

EAST LONDON, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 16: Dané van Niekerk of South Africa during the 2nd Womens T20 International match between South Africa and India at Buffalo Park on February 16, 2018 in East London, South Africa. (Photo by Richard Huggard/Gallo Images)

EAST LONDON, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 16: Dané van Niekerk of South Africa during the 2nd Womens T20 International match between South Africa and India at Buffalo Park on February 16, 2018 in East London, South Africa. (Photo by Richard Huggard/Gallo Images)

Mithali Raj and Smriti Mandhana both hit half-centuries spearheading a comprehensive, nine-wicket victory over the Momentum Proteas at Buffalo Park on Friday. The visitors go 2-0 up in the five-match series which concludes in Cape Town on 24 February.

Raj, whose unbeaten 76 off 61 deliveries (8x4s) earned her a deserved second, consecutive Player of the Match award, showed her experience in their chase of South Africa’s 142/7. The senior put on a 106-run opening stand with Mandhana (57 off 42, 4x4s, 3x6s), setting their side on course to victory before Moseline Daniels (1/21) struck with the only wicket for the hosts.

India captain, Harmanpreet Kaur (7* off 12 balls) took the backseat in her 38-run, second-wicket partnership with Raj, allowing the veteran to take charge as they cruised to victory.

Several missed wicket opportunities and a spell of unremarkable fielding hurt the home side’s chances of getting within sniffing distance of victory, while the visitors made it look easy in comparison. Raj ended the match in style, hitting a boundary off Ismail for victory with five deliveries to spare.

Earlier in the day, Suné Luus and Nadine de Klerk top scored for the Proteas with 33 and 26 runs respectively on the road to posting their total, which was considered above par on the slow East London wicket. The rest of the line-up saw a collection of scores in the teens from Shabnim Ismail (16* off 12 balls), Chloe Tryon (15 off 11), Lizelle Lee (15 off 12) and captain Dané van Niekerk (15 off 18) after they were put in to bat first.

South Africa will have just one day to turn things around as the series moves to what will be a must-win match for them in Johannesburg on Sunday. The teams will play the first of three double-headers alongside their male counterparts at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium at 09:00 (SAST). The match will be broadcast live on SuperSport 2.