India's Mithali Raj en route her 85-ball 64 against SA yesterday
Colombo: India closed in on a berth in the ICC Women's World Cup 2017 after a 49-run win over South Africa, while Sri Lanka and Bangladesh also registered notable wins in the first round of Super Six matches in the qualifiers yesterday.
India captain Mithali Raj starred in what was seen as a high-profile match since India and South Africa had topped their respective groups and carried a maximum of four points from the preliminary league to the second stage in which they play teams from the other preliminary group.
The top four from the Super Six qualify not only for the World Cup but also for the ICC Women's Championship. India have one foot in the door with three wins but with Sri Lanka defeating Pakistan by five wickets and Bangladesh beating Ireland by seven wickets, there is a mathematical chance of five teams finishing at par at the end of the league.
Put into bat, India scored only 14 off the first 10 overs but the complexion of the game changed once Raj came to the crease. Opener Mona Meshram and Raj lifted the team with a fine 96-run second-wicket stand to help India reach 205-8. Raj scored 64 off 85 ballsand Meshram got 55 off 85 balls South Africa's reply suffered some early setbacks and they were reduced to 41 for three in the 19th over as Lizelle Lee (1) and Laura Wolvaardt (0) as well as Mignon du Preez (15) could not do much.
India: 205-8 in 50 overs (M Raj 64, M Meshram 55; M Kapp 2-23) beat South Africa: 156 in 46.4 overs (T Chetty 52, M Kapp 29; S Pandey 4-34) by 49 runs.
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