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Smriti, Shafali Dominate South Africa in Historic Opening Day of the one-off test 

Smriti, Shafali Dominate South Africa in Historic Opening Day of the one-off test 

Chennai:  In a stunning showcase of batting prowess, India’s opening pair, Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma, dismantled South Africa’s bowling attack on the first day of their one-off Test in Chennai. Mandhana’s authoritative 149 and Verma’s breathtaking double century, which featured eight sixes, propelled India to an unprecedented 525/4 at stumps – the highest score ever recorded on the opening day of a Test match at Chepauk.

The day began with a cautious start for the Indian openers, but once Verma struck a boundary through the covers, the floodgates opened. The duo’s partnership soared to an impressive 292 runs, with both players reaching monumental centuries. Verma’s aggressive stroke play and record-breaking spree of sixes left the South African bowlers in disarray.

Despite a brief respite during the lunch break, Mandhana and Verma resumed their assault post-intermission, continuing to frustrate the South African bowlers. Boundaries flowed in a relentless display, with both batters reaching their centuries off consecutive deliveries. Mandhana, who had already scored two centuries and a 90 in ODIs, looked set for a double century but fell short at 149, edging one to slip.

South Africa’s relief was fleeting as Verma continued her onslaught, hitting back-to-back sixes before a single took her to a remarkable double century. Her relentless aggression, combined with Jemimah Rodrigues’ brisk contribution, compounded South Africa’s misery on a day dominated by India’s batting. It took a run-out to end Verma’s incredible innings, and Rodrigues soon followed after surpassing fifty.

As the day drew to a close, India continued to amass runs, surpassing the 500-mark with Harmanpreet Kaur and Richa Ghosh capitalizing on a fatigued bowling attack. The 525 runs posted by India at stumps is the highest opening day score in Women’s Test history, far surpassing previous records.

India’s 525/4 surpasses their previous highest total in Women’s Tests of 467 against England in Taunton in 2002. The previous highest score at home was 428 against England in Navi Mumbai last December. Only two higher innings totals exist in Women’s Tests: 575/9 declared by Australia against South Africa in Perth earlier this year, and 569/6 declared by Australia against England in Guildford in 1998.

India’s 525 runs in a single day’s play is the highest in a Women’s Test, surpassing the previous records of 431 by England against New Zealand in Christchurch in 1934/35 and 410 by India against England in Navi Mumbai in December 2023.

Shafali Verma’s double century makes her the second Indian woman to achieve this milestone in Tests, following Mithali Raj’s 214 against England in Taunton in 2002. Verma’s 194-ball double century is the fastest in Women’s Tests, surpassing Annabelle Sutherland’s 248-ball effort against South Africa in Perth earlier this year.

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