Smriti Mandhana posted an emphatic statement on behalf of the host as India raced to a nine-wicket victory over South Africa with more than 22 overs to spare in the second One Day International at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Stadium here on Tuesday.

The ever smiling and relaxed Smriti set the tempo for the Indian response. She pulled and hooked two sixes off Shabnim Ismail in the first over, after South Africa had set a modest target of 158.

Yet, the beauty of the Indian display of authority lay more in the restraint than the free flowing strokes, as Smriti and opener Punam Raut put on 138 runs for the second wicket, being very judicious with their shot selection.

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Smriti hit 80 off 64 balls, and had a third off-driven six off Nonkululek Mlaba. It was the 18th half century for Smriti in her 53 ODI. Punam was equal to the task…

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