Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur headline India's thrilling win

Smriti Mandhana made 136 off 120 balls while Harmanpreet Kaur remained unbeaten on 103

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Tanveer Singh Kapoor
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Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur

Smriti Mandhana (L) and Harmanpreet Kaur (R) during their partnership © BCCI

Smriti Mandhana’s second consecutive century and Harmanpreet Kaur’s sixth ODI ton headlined India’s series-clinching victory in the second ODI at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Wednesday (June 19). The captain and the vice-captain put 171 runs together to take India’s score to 325 for 3, which South Africa fell short of by just four runs despite the heroics from Laura Wolvaardt and Marizanne Kapp.

The Proteas won the toss and sent India out to bat, on a pitch that appeared to have more even grass coverage compared to the opening game. The home side commenced their innings at a slow pace, with Mandhana and Shafali Verma struggling to get runs during the powerplay. In an effort to accelerate the score, Shafali lost her wicket in the 12th over while trying to hit the ball against the spin.

Dayalan Hemalatha entered the crease next, and hit a boundary and two sixes before departing on 24 runs in a scratchy innings that began in a similar fashion to that of the openers in the powerplay.

However the dismissal of Hemalatha brought Harmanpreet to the crease and that changed the momentum. Mandhana and captain Kaur took control of the innings from there.

Mandhana, who was on ten off 31 balls at one point, reached her half-century in 67 balls. Despite struggling at first, she shifted her gears and began to hit boundaries consistently. The left-hander picked up from where she left in the opening fixture and reached the three-figure mark yet again in 103 balls - making her the first Indian to hit back-to-back centuries in women’s international cricket.

Meanwhile, Harmanpreet provided a helping hand to Mandhana, scoring a half-century off just 58 balls in a busy innings. The 171-run partnership came to an end with the opener’s departure as she tried going down the track and play inside out but ended up finding Tazmin Brits at cover point. But not before she scored a career-best of 136 runs, earning her standing ovation from the Bengaluru crowd for the second time in as many matches. 

ALSO READ: Smriti Mandhana ends wait for home century

Richa Ghosh was sent out at number five instead of Jemimah Rodrigues to go after the bowling in the death overs. During the last five overs, India went rampage as they were looking to reach a defendable total.

Harmanpreet, living up to her reputation, went on a hitting spree, which was rewarded with her sixth century in ODIs. And she got there in style too, taking on Nonkululeko Mlaba in the final over with a four, six, and another four. Ghosh’s 13-ball cameo to score unbeaten 25 meant the home side ended with their first 300 plus total in ODIs at home. India plundered 118 runs in the last ten overs in the process.

South Africa started off in a better position compared to the home side. But they lost an early wicket in the form of Tazmin Brits at the hands of the debutant Arundhati Reddy. Anneke Bosch followed her way back to the pavilion as Deepti Sharma lured her down the track for a simple catch at extra-cover.

Mandhana was sent in to bowl for the first time in international cricket and she struck with her second delivery when she had Sune Luus hit an outside edge while trying to cut the ball straight to Ghosh. The whole stadium erupted as the medium pacer went for a run across the ground.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">This is Smriti Mandhana’s world! 👑<br><br>Rewatch her first international wicket 🇮🇳<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/INDvSA?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#INDvSA</a> | (via: <a href="https://twitter.com/JioCinema?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JioCinema</a> )<br><br> <a href="https://t.co/gjylELqlP9">pic.twitter.com/gjylELqlP9</a></p>&mdash; Women’s CricZone (@WomensCricZone) <a href="https://twitter.com/WomensCricZone/status/1803439884197306450?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 19, 2024</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Proteas skipper Wolvaardt was looking for a strong partnership which could help her side get near the total. Kapp made her way to the crease and provided exactly what South Africa wanted. Her aggressive approach put pressure on the Indian bowling attack.

Post her fifty, Kapp hit a flurry of shots on her way to an 85-ball century - the fastest recorded ODI hundred for South Africa. It looked like the game was slipping away from India’s hands. But Deepti provided the breakthrough at the right time as Kapp failed to middle her shot and Pooja Vastrakar was present at long-off to take the catch, giving India a huge sigh of relief.

Wolvaardt continued her fight and became the fourth player in the game to reach the three-figure mark - another first in Women’s ODIs. She accelerated her score further with Nadine de Klerk providing decent support at the other end.

The game went down to the wire as South Africa needed 10 runs off the last over and when de Klerk hit a four in the second delivery to make the required score six runs off four balls, it seemed like the game was going the visitors way.

However, Vastrakar got the better of her in the next delivery and Nondumiso Shangase followed her back to the pavilion immediately. When Wolvaardt finally got the strike, she had to hit a six to win the game or four to tie it, but the Proteas captain was unable to gauge the slower ball from Vastrakar and missed it leaving South Africa agonisingly short of the target.

Despite Kapp and Wolvaardt’s best efforts, India came out on top yet again in a nail-biting end. The hosts now lead the ODI series by 2-0, with a scope for a clean sweep on Sunday (June 23).

Brief scores: India 325/3 in 50 overs (Smriti Mandhana 136, Harmanpreet Kaur 103*; Nonkululeko Mlaba 2/51) beat South Africa 321/6 in 50 overs (Laura Wolvaardt 135*, Marizanne Kapp 114; Deepti Sharma 2/56) by 4 runs. POTM: Harmanpreet Kaur

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