Mithali Raj, Mandhana fire India to 9-wicket win over SA
East London (South Africa): Veteran Mithali Raj and opener Smriti Mandhana hit stylish half centuries as India cruised to a comfortable nine-wicket victory over South Africa in the second women’s T20 international. The Harmanpreet Kaur-led team are now 2-0 up in the five-match series, having won the opening encounter by seven wickets. Chasing a modest 143, India cantered to victory in 19.1 overs as Mandhana hit a blistering 57 off 42 balls while Raj anchored the innings to perfection with her second successive half-century, remaining unbeaten on 76 off 61 balls. Raj was declared the player of the match. “The wicket was on the slower side and it wouldn’t have been easy for a new batter to come in and start hitting straightaway. The century partnership (with Mandhana) was really important,” Raj said at the post-match presentation ceremony. Her skipper Harmanpreet was equally ecstatic with the senior pro’s performance. “We had discussed that if a player gets settled, she would have to bat through. It was a fantastic effort from Mithali di as she performed the role of a senior player,” she said. Mandhana struck four boundaries and three sixes — one off leg-spinner Dane van Niekerk and another two off Raisibe Ntozakhe. Scores: South Africa 142/7 in 20 overs (Sune Luus 33, Nadine de Klerk 26, Poonam Yadav 2/17) lost to India 144/1 in 19.1 overs (Mithali Raj 76*, Smriti Mandhana 57).