Laura Wolvaardt did everything except win the best player of the match award, as South Africa women exposed the chinks in the Indian team with a resounding eight-wicket victory in the first one-day international at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Stadium here on Sunday.
Even though 10% of ticket was put on sale, the spectators were few in the massive structure. That did not deter the teams, as they engaged in spells of lively play, with South Africa having the last laugh, in the warmth of the afternoon sun, when the Indian enthusiasm looked to have withered.
Opting to bowl, South Africa turned the tide in its favour dismissing the openers cheaply. India began rebuilding at a brisk pace, reaching 101 for three in 25 overs. Skipper Mithali Raj anchored the Indian innings with 50 off 85 balls.
Harmanpreet Kaur, playing her 100th ODI, was in splendid form as she struck 40 off 41 balls. She looked good for more before an ambitious off drive saw her finding the fielder at the boundary. The Indian rued the inability to build on many good knocks.
Ahead of the fixture, Raj hailed 200-250 as a competitive score at the venue. Naturally, India could not reach the total that it had promised, mustering only 177.
South Africa rolled on effortlessly, with the Lizelle Lee (83 not out) and Laura Wolvaardt putting on 169 for the opening wicket. Jhulan Goswami finally managed to break the opening stand, dismissing Wolvaardt and skipper Sune Luus, but it was too little too late.
For her brilliant work on the field when she took three catches, including that of Raj, and one direct hit run out, not to forget 110-ball 80-run knock, the 21-year-old Wolvaardt was the stand out performer but it was medium pacer Shabnim Ismail who walked away with the player of the match award whose nippy bowling helped her dismiss Punam Raut, Raj and Goswami.
Protean skipper Luus said that she was proud of her team for beating India in India with such a big margin, and setting the tempo for the five-match series.
It was the biggest win for South Africa against India coming after the side had beaten Pakistan, by increasing margins of 3, 13 and 32 runs in the previous one-day series in Durban.