India team after winning the series. ©hindustantimes.com

After losing the first two encounters due to poor performances, South Africa bounced back in the third match of the three ODI series against India at Senwes Park, Potchefstroom.

Both the teams made changes to their playing eleven: Shabnim Ismail and Mignon du Preez were in the playing XI, in place of Marizanne Kapp and Trisha Chetty for the South African team, which turned out to be a shrewd decision, with both Du Preez and Ismail putting in a match-winning performance.

For India, Pooja Vastrakar got her ODI cap and India made changes to the opening pair too, with Deepti Sharma taking the place of Punam Raut who was struggling to score in the first two matches. Mona Meshram and Ekta Bisht got the chance to play in place of Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Jhulan Goswami.

Electing to bat first, India were certain to post a huge total on board, as they had done in the previous match. All eyes were on the opener Smriti Mandhana, as she had been in formidable form in the first two matches, scoring 84 and 135 respectively. But Shabnim Ismail handed South Africa a breakthrough in the very first over, by taking the wicket of Mandhana, who went for a pull shot too early, with Wolvaardt taking the catch diving forward in the cover area.

Skipper Mithali Raj’s struggle for runs continued, as she got out by a wide delivery bowled by Khaka, after getting a large outside edge straight to the keeper. India was soon left struggling at 10/2, but following their dismissals, Deepti Sharma and vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur took charge.

After a couple of shots, vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur also got out and Krishnamurthy came in. She accelerated the innings, hit a quick flash knock of 56 off 64, and helped India cross 150 runs, but got out by a sweep shot in the air, took by Steyn.

Shabnim Ismail picked up four crucial wickets during the Indian innings. Despite the fall of wickets at regular intervals, Deepti Sharma completed 1,000 ODI runs, becoming the youngest Indian to do so. Later in the match, an unbeaten 31 off 16 from Shikha Pandey helped India put up a decent competitive total of 240 on board.

In reply, after losing Lee’s wicket in the third over, Wolvaardt and Steyn constructed the innings very well, before the latter’s dismissal by Poonam Yadav in the 16th over.

South Africa chased down the target with ease, as Laura Wolvaardt and Mignon du Preez brought up the fifties. Skipper Dane van Niekerk played a pivotal knock of 41 to reach the target within 49.2 overs, with seven wickets in hand. Poor fielding and a couple of dropped catches shut India’s dream of a maiden whitewash in South Africa.

Wolvaardt’s 59 made her the youngest and fastest woman cricketer to score 1,000 ODI runs. With this win, South Africa grab two valuable points in this ICC Women’s Championship.

Mignon Du Preez became the Player of the match, for her stormy knock of 90*, and Smriti Mandhana became the Player of the series, for her 219 runs over 3 matches.

A noticeable improvement in the proceedings was that Cricket South Africa streamed the 3rd ODI live on their youtube page, after a huge outcry on social media, about the first two ODIs not being streamed. The live stream got a massive response, with hundreds of people watching!

Both teams will now play a five-match T20 series which begins from February 13.