South Africa Women register a historic series win in India
After a successful ODI series in which South Africa Women won 4-1, they again made history in the T20 International series as they record their first T20I series win on Indian soil. They won the series 2-1 after winning the first two matches as India Women delivered a strong performance in the dead rubber.
Like the 5-match ODI series, all the matches of the T20I series were also played at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow. Even before the series could start, India had a big blow. Their captain Harmanpreet Kaur was injured during the 5th ODI. As a result, the left-hand opening batter Smriti Mandhana took care of the opening responsibility.
India also made few more changes in their T20I squad; most notably, they included the 17-year old stunner, Shafali Verma. There were health concerns for South Africa as they missed their experienced all-rounder Marizanne Kapp due to illness.
South Africa Women take the lead
Like the ODI series, toss played a big role in the T20I series also. India lost the toss in the first T20I and sent in. They could score only 130 runs for six wickets in their allocated 20 overs. All their top four batters got starts, but none of them could push for quick runs.
Harleen Deol, who did not play in the ODI series, scored her maiden T20 fifty to lead India’s batting. After 45 runs in partnership with Shafali, who scored 23, Harleen and Jemimah Rodrigues added 60 runs for the third wicket. But just when it looked like they will accelerate in the last few overs, the South Africans strike. Harleen’s dismissal on the first ball of the 18th over for 52 off Anneke Bosch pegged back the Indians.
They lost Jemimah in the same over for 30. They lost two more wickets in the last two deliveries of the 20th over and could add only 14 runs after Harleen was dismissed. It was clear that they were at least 20 runs short of the par score.
For South Africa, their most experienced bowler Shabnim Ismail finished with three wickets for just 14 runs, and Bosch finished with 2/11. The South African chase did not have too much drama. After a rare failure from Lizelle Lee in the tour, the other opener Bosch and the captain Sune Luus added 90 runs on the second wicket.
Although Luus was dismissed for 43, Bosch scored her first T20I half-century and remained unbeaten on 66. South Africa completed the chase in the first ball of the 20th over and took a 1-0 lead in the series.
Visitors register historic win
The teams met again within 24 hours of the first match. While South Africans went unchanged, India just made one change to bring in left-arm spinner Radha Yadav in place of leg-spinner Poonam Yadav. Luus won the toss again and did not hesitate to send the opposition in.
This time, India posted a 150-plus total thanks to their two youngsters. Shafali Verma at top of the order again provided the glimpses of her talent as she raced to a 31-ball 47 with 6 fours and 2 sixes. She and Harleen once again rescued the Indian innings after the early departure of captain Smriti Mandhana. The duo added 79 runs on the second wicket. But once both were dismissed, South Africa hoped for restricting India to another sub-par total.
This was when another 17-year-old, Richa Ghosh, took control of the game. Playing just her 5th T20I, Ghosh played some crisp shots to score an unbeaten 44 off just 26 balls. India posted 158/4 as four South African bowlers shared 1 wicket each.
Unlike the ODIs, Lizelle Lee and Laura Woolvaardt did not open the T20Is as the latter batted in the middle-order. But this was the duo who took South Africa to a thrilling win in this match. Lee started in her usual fashion and played shots all around the ground. She was lucky to get dropped twice during her innings, once on 30 and once on 60, both times by Richa Ghosh. She was finally dismissed by Radha Yadav for 70 off 45 deliveries. Woolvaardt was also dismissed early in her innings, but she masterfully guided the chase and did not panic even when the Required rate creeps up.
India was looking to defend nine runs in the last over. Arundhati Reddy started well and conceded only 3 runs in the first four balls. With six required off 2 balls, she bowled a high full toss which was adjudged as no-ball and allowed South Africa to record a last-ball win. Woolvaardt remained unbeaten on 53 of 39 balls, and with this win, South Africa recorded an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
Comeback by the hosts
India Women registered a consolation win by nine wickets in the third and last T20I match against South Africa Women finally. There was nothing to lose for the hosts. However, they managed to get a dominating win.
Mandhana decided to field first after winning the toss. There was no surprise in her decision as all five ODIs, and the First Two ODIs were won by the chasing team before this match at the venue. As expected, the South African team included some fringe players- Faye Tunicliff in place Mignon du Preez to give the former her first match of the tour. They also replaced pace bowler Ayabonga Khaka and left-arm spinner Nonkululekho Mlaba with right-arm seamer Tumi Sekhukhune and off-spinner Nondumiso Shangase.
Lizelle Lee started with a boundary second ball, but the Indians got the control early in the game. Rajeshwari Gayakwad picked up the wicket of Anneke Bosch in the second over of the match, which was a big blow for the South Africans. Tunnicliff could not push the scoring which created pressure on Lee who was dismissed by Gayakwad with a brilliant arm ball.
A duck from Laura Woolvaardt, thanks to Radha Yadav, further helped the hosts. Tunnicliff (18 off 35) was finally dismissed by Simran Bahadur for 18 off 35 balls and this wicket came as a blessing in disguise for South Africa. Sune Luus (28 off 25), Lara Goodall (25* off 17), and Sinalo Jafta (16 off 9) managed to give some momentum and push the score to 112/7. Gayakwad finished with 3/9 in her four overs to claim the player-of-the-match award.
Chasing 113 was never a tough task for the star-studded Indian batting line-up. Shafali Verma was once again on fire as she smashed 30-ball 60 with seven fours and five sixes. After her back-to-back showings, She went past Beth Mooney to get the top spot in the ICC Women’s T20I batters’ list.
It took only 11 overs for the Indians to chase down the mere total. Shafali Verma was dismissed, but the match fate was decided by then. The match saw Verma playing her natural game with powerful shots and the senior Mandhana playing the role of an anchor calmly.
There was a time when Mandhana was on 3, and the young opener was batting on 40 off just 19 deliveries. Mandhana knew her role by then. She was there to provide support and rotate the strike. However, Mandhana started to open up in the fifth over eventually and remained unbeaten on 48 came off 28 balls.