Down 0-2 in a five-match series, South Africa Women registered a convincing five-wicket win over high- flying India Women in the third T20I at Johannesburg on Sunday.
Right-arm medium-pacer Shabnim Ismail’s 5/30 and Dane van Niekerk-helmed strong middle order ensured that the series was kept alive.While newbie Radha Yadav was replaced by seasoned Rajeshwari Gayakwad for India, Masabata Klaas came in for Ayabonga Khaka for South Africa in a like-for- like slow-left- arm orthodox and right-arm medium changes respectively.
Put in to bat, India Women lost their senior-most player, Mithali Raj to a rare failure for nought to the fifth ball of the innings. Right-arm medium-pacer Marizanne Kapp was duly rewarded for unsettling the in-form batswoman from the outset. Undeterred by the early loss of her opening partner, Smriti Mandhana began in resounding fashion taking on the pacy Shabnim Ismail in an over that yielded an expensive 17 runs. T20I captain, Harmanpreet Kaur meanwhile gradually grew into the game and joined the swashbuckling Mandhana to a run feast. By the end of the power play, the visitors were motoring along well at 49/1. In stark contrast, Kapp who bowled half the others conceded just six runs while picking up the all-important wicket of Raj, who guided her team over the line in each of the previous two occasions. With Mandhana misreading a Dane van Niekerk leggie to depart for a belligerent 37 (24b, 5×4, 1×6), India were placed well at 55/2 in 7.2 overs. Young sensation, Jemimah Rodrigues who made a sparking 37 on T20I debut five days ago, came in to play a small but important hand with her skipper Kaur, as the Sydney Thunder Women’s player took the onus upon herself to launch an onslaught.
After putting on a 38-run second wicket stand in just 24 balls with Rodrigues, Kaur was dismissed for a quick-fire 48 (30b, 6×4, 2×6). Rodrigues (6) followed suit almost immediately in a 12th over that re- introduced Ismail to a welcome double breakthrough and bring South Africa back into the contest. Only in the previous over, Kaur exemplified ominous signs by carting offie Raisibe Ntozakhe for three boundaries and a six.
Klaas bowling her first over and the innings 13th had a golden chance to run-out Veda Krishnamurthy on 2 who was idling outside her crease at the non-striker’s end, but the disaster was averted with South Africa surprisingly not making an appeal to the direct hit. T20 specialist, Anuja Patil (7) needlessly went for a heave-ho to lose her stick at 108/5 towards the end of the 14th over. Krishnamurthy could not make most of the early slice of good fortune either. Krishnamurthy made a 14-ball 23, as the batters to follow could not stomach a fight. India lost their last five wickets for just nine runs to slump to 133 all out in 17.5 overs.
Chasing a below par target, India Women were always chasing the game but gave the home side some anxious moments in their quest for their first T20I win in five attempts between the sides.
Only a greenhorn with India women, Baroda speedster Pooja Vastrakar started well bowling a maiden in her first over to Lizelle Lee. The unnerved opener was eventually removed cheaply with Vastrakar returning for the third over to peg back South Africa early. Captain van Niekerk (26) who was shaping well was undone by flight by the experienced slow-left- arm orthodox Rajeshwari Gayakwad towards the end of the Power Play. At 34/2, South Africa was in a spot of bother. But it was an opportunity for Sune Luus to play a defining knock along with seasoned Mignon Du Preez for company. The pair raised an exact 50-run stand for the third wicket when Du Preez was eventually dismissed for 20 off the bowling of leggie Poonam Yadav at the end of the 14th over. But a sniff of hope that India may have had with the home side requiring 8.6 to the over with five overs to play, were doused soon after. Anuja Patil ’s offies were severely dealt with by one of the biggest hitters in the women’s game, Chloe Tryon. The well-built South African middle-order- bat smashed a 6,4,4 off the last three deliveries of an 18-run 16th over. Luus meanwhile made a career high 41, to be the fourth out to a lovely Vastrakar slower delivery with the score on a hop (111). Tryon scythed a 34 at an astounding strike rate of 226.66 to do more than enough to ensure her side gets across the line. Nadine de Klerk and Kapp saw off the team to a first T20 win over India Women with an over to spare. Barring Shikha Pandey and Anuja Patil, rest of the India bowlers did well.
The sides move to Centurion for the fourth T20I to be played on February 21.