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Top-order fires South Africa to big win in series opener

File photo - Lizelle Lee's early blitz helped South Africa make a strong start to their tour of Bangladesh Getty Images

Handy contributions from their top-order, and legspinners Dane van Niekerk and Suné Luus, helped South Africa make a strong start to their five-match ODI series on their tour of Bangladesh, with an 86-run win in Cox's Bazar. South Africa's top-three struck half-centuries to lay the base for their 251 for 3 after they were invited to make first use of the surface at the Sheikh Kamal International Cricket Stadium. Luus and van Niekerk, the captain, then took five wickets between them, with the latter also proving economical, her nine-over spell costing South Africa just 23 runs, as Bangladesh were restricted to 165 for 6 in 50 overs.

Lizelle Lee, South Africa's wicketkeeper and opening batsman, razed the home team early with six fours and seven sixes as she zoomed to 87 off 71 balls. When she fell, she had scored the bulk of the 122 runs for the first wicket with Andrie Steyn, who was more sedate in her 68 off 123 balls. Following Lee's dismissal, Steyn raised her maiden ODI half-century and added 79 more for the second wicket with Mignon du Preez. She was stumped off Salma Khatun, the offspinner, in the 43rd over. Khatun struck again, seventeen balls later, to have Chloe Tryon caught. But du Preez's unbeaten 62, and a cameo of 20 from Marizanne Kapp, helped South Africa slap 37 runs off the last 25 balls.

Khatun, despite her twin strikes, was expensive, ending her four-over spell with 2 for 30. Apart from her, only Nahida Akter, the left-arm spinner, was among the wickets. Akter was also economical, giving away just 45 in 10 overs in addition to the big scalp of Lee.

Bangladesh crawled along for much of the first half of their chase. When Salma Khatun was caught behind of Luus, they had stumbled to 56 for 4. Rumana Ahmed, the Bangladesh captain, kept the fight alive with 37, but used up 80 balls. She added 52 for the fifth wicket with Nigar Sultana, the wicketkeeper-batsman. After Rumana's dismissal, to a caught behind off van Niekerk, the onus fell on Sultana. She stayed till the end, finishing not out on 59. But despite her 90-ball effort that included seven fours and a six, Bangladesh fell a long way behind.

While Luus (3 for 52 in 10) and van Niekerk dominated the wickets column, there were other impressive contributions. Opening bowler Marizanne Kapp and medium pacer Marcia Letsoalo stifled Bangladesh with economical spells of none for 10 in six overs, and none for 17 in 10 overs respectively.