Lucknow, March 7: Skipper Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur produced fine knocks but India never got the momentum it needed against South Africa in the opening ODI, settling for 177 for nine in their first international match in 12 months.
The 62-run stand between Raj (50 off 85) and Kaur (40 off 41) steadied the innings after India lost their first three wickets for 40 runs, including star opener Smrit Mandhana (14 off 20), who looked in sublime touch during her short stay.
Harmanpreet, playing her 100th ODI, looked ominous but played one big shot too many to be caught at long-off. She smashed six boundaries in her entertaining knock.
Raj, who took some time to get going, then shared a 52-run partnership with Deepti Sharma (27 off 46) to keep the innings moving. But her dismissal off a full toss triggered a collapse that saw India reeling at 160 for eight from 154 for four.
The skipper's innings comprised four boundaries and a six.
Senior South Africa pacer Shabnim Ismail was the pick of the bowlers, taking three wickets for 28 runs in 10 overs. South Africa opted to bowl after winning the toss. India handed a debut to pacer Monica Patel.
Indian players have not got to play in the last 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic while South Africa recently hosted Pakistan.
India: 177 of 9 in 50 overs (M Raj 50, H Kaur 40, D Sharma 27; S Ismail 3/28, N Mlaba 2/41)