Big-hitting Lee, calm Wolvaardt guide South Africa home in a thriller

Shajin Mohanan S
21 Mar 2021
New Update
Big-hitting Lee, calm Wolvaardt guide South Africa home in a thriller

South Africa © BCCI

Fifties from Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt in a thriller at the Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow on Sunday (March 21).

Chasing 159 to win, South Africa lost in-form Bosch early when the right-hander was bowled while trying go across the wicket against Rajeshwari Gayakwad. But Lizelle Lee continued her good form from the ODIs and in the company of Sune Luus took on India spinners yet again. Gayakwad in the fifth over conceded two boundaries, while Deepti Sharma in the next over was taken for three fours.

Lee received a reprieve when Richa Ghosh dropped her at deep square-leg off Radha Yadav. Lee-Luus duo put on a 58-run partnership for the second wicket before a brilliant throw from Sharma at long-off saw the back of Luus for 20 off 21.

However, Lee kept going and brought up her 12th T20I fifty with a single off Gayakwad from 34 balls. 14 runs came off the next over bowled by Harleen Deol and Lee and Laura Wolvaardt smashed the 14th over bowled by Arundhati Reddy for 13 runs leaving South Africa needing 51 runs from the last six overs. India dropped a couple of chances and mis-fields allowed the visitors with a few extra runs.

Yadav returned to dismiss Lee for 70 with a good return catch with the the big-hitter mistiming high into the sky. But Wolvaardt and Mignon du Preez took 11 runs from the next over to reduce the target to 25 from 18 balls. Yadav, best bowler for India on the night, almost had du Preez stumped off the fourth ball, but gave away only six runs from the over to finish her spell.

With 19 needing from the last two overs, du Preez dragged Deol to long-on boundary in the second ball. With only two runs coming from the first four balls, Wolvaardt pulled the fifth ball for a boundary before inside edging the last ball through fine-leg through four.

Only three runs came in the first four balls, but Reddy's beamer reduced South Africa's target to 3 from last two and Wolvaardt scored a couple down the ground before taking off for the single to sneak South Africa home as Ghosh failed to properly collect the ball.

Earlier, with the theme of team winning the toss opting to field continuing, put into bat, India lost skipper Smriti Mandhana early when she slashed at a wide delivery out with no feet movement off Shabnim Ismail for just seven.

Deol, who scored her maiden T20I fifty last night, joined Shafali Verma as the young opener took on Ismail smashing her for three boundaries in the fourth over. Deol joined her with a drive through point off Ayabonga Khaka for a boundary. A four and a six down the ground from Verma in the next over took India to 41 for 1 at the end of the power play.

In the eighth over, Deol flicked Anneke Bosch for boundary before getting down on the knee to cut her through point for another in the next ball. Verma was severe on Nadine de Klerk as she hit for a couple of more boundaries in the tenth over before slog sweeping Nonkululeko Mlaba over mid-wicket for a big six. But the 17-year-old’s innings came to an end in the same over when she was castled while trying to go across the line.

With India losing Deol soon, it looked a like India innings will peter out like in the first game, but RGhosh had other ideas, with Luus providing her width, she repeatedly smashed the leg-spinner through point-cover region for three boundaries. The over ended with Jemimah Rodrigues’ pull going for the fourth boundary of the over.

Even though India lost Rodrigues when she tried to paddle scoop de Klerk and was caught behind by Sinalo Jafta for 16, Ghosh continued to go after the bowling and added four boundaries in the last two overs to take her score to 44 off 26. India finished their innings on 158 for 4 from the stipulated 20 overs.

For South Africa, four bowlers picked up one wicket each while Aybonga Khaka was the most economical giving away only 24 runs from her four overs even though she was wicketless.

Brief Scores: India
158/4 in 20 overs ( Shafali Verma 47, Richa Ghosh 44*) lost to South Africa 159/4 in 20 overs (Lizelle Lee 70, Laura Wolvaardt 53*) by six wickets