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India dominate Proteas on historic opening day

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Shafali’s record-breaking feat, Mandhana’s ton put Women in Blue on top

Chennai, June 28: Young opener Shafali Verma played out of her skin to score a record-breaking double century, which helped India to the highest-ever single-day total as a plethora of landmarks were rewritten on the opening day of the one-off Test against South Africa here on Friday.
Shafali’s double century (205), scored off just 194 balls, and her formidable 292-run partnership with Smriti Mandhana (149) set the platform for India’s massive 525 for 4 on a day when the visitors were sent on a leather hunt by the host batters.
Shafali eclipsed the double-century record of Annabel Sutherland of Australia, who had achieved the feat off 248 deliveries in a Test against South Africa in February.
The 20-year-old Indian also became only the second Indian woman cricketer after the legendary Mithali Raj to hit a double century in Test cricket.
Mithali’s 214 had come off 407 balls and the former India skipper achieved it during the drawn second Test against England at Taunton in August, 2002.
India also broke the 89-year-old mark for most runs scored in a single day by 94 runs. England women had racked up 431/2 against New Zealand at Lancaster Park, Christchurch in 1935.
Shafali was dismissed soon after completing her double-ton, being run out. The young opener’s previous best in Tests was 96. The hard-hitting batter, playing only in her fifth Test, smashed 23 boundaries and eight maximums during her historic knock.
The day belonged to Shafali as she scored with ease, making the Chepauk crowd erupt in joy while leaving the Proteas bowlers clueless about their line and length.
Electing to bat, Shafali and Mandhana exploited the familiar conditions and the inexperience of the bowlers to push the visitors on the back-foot in the opening session itself.
The pair took the side to 130 for no loss at the lunch break, and once the easy-paced pitch, eased up further, the duo made merry, scoring virtually a run a ball.
While the pacers did get some purchase from the wicket and managed to tie down the well-set pair a bit in the post-lunch session, the spinners struggled.
Mandhana was the first to depart, caught in the slip cordon while trying to poke at a delivery from Delmi Tucker. The partnership yielded 292 runs and also helped the India vice-captain achieve here best individual score in the longest format. Her previous best was 127.
This was also India’s highest partnership for any wicket in the format. It was also the second-highest partnership in Women’s Test for any wicket. The world record stands in the name of Australia’s LA Reeler and DA Annetts, who scored 309 runs for the third wicket against England in Wetherby in 1987.
Shafali’s next partner Satheesh Shubha (15 runs) lasted just 27 balls before she was sent back by Nadine de Klerk.
Shafali then got support from Jemimah Rodrigues (55). She raced to a historic double-ton after the tea break, smashing consecutive sixes and a single off Tucker.
Shafali’s stay at the crease ended following a mix-up with Jemimah.
Jemimah, who appeared to be in good touch, brought up her third Test half-century shortly thereafter, before falling to Tucker, as India reached 450/4, a huge total by any yardstick.
But there was more to come as skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (42 not out) and Richa Ghosh (43 not out) took charge. The pair helped India become the first team to cross the 500-run mark in a single day of a women’s Test match. (PTI)

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