All-round India women beat South Africa by 54 runs, clinch T20 series 3-1

Mithali Raj’s brilliant half-century and some wonderful performances with the ball and in the field helped India beat South Africa by 54 runs in the fifth and final game in Cape Town and seal the series 3-1.

cricket Updated: Feb 24, 2018 20:07 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, Cape Town
South Africa Women's National Cricket Team‬,‪Mithali Raj‬,‪India Women's National Cricket Team‬
India women’s cricket team continued their dominant run against South Africa as they secured a 54-run win in the fifth and final game in Cape Town to seal the series 3-1.(Action Images via Reuters)

India women, the 50-over World Cup finalists, proved their class and rising stature once again as they scored a dominant 54-run victory over hosts South Africa in the fifth and final T20 International to wrap up the series 3-1. Prior to this, they had won the one-day series, the ICC World Cup qualification round, 2-1. (INDIA vs SOUTH AFRICA LIVE SCORECARD)

The two series wins not only enhances their reputation, it proved that the players have come of age. Saturday’s game wasn’t just about their batting and bowling, but also about their fielding. After a below par performances in the field during the previous two T20s, they held everything on Saturday to surprise one.

The catch taken by Jemimah Rodrigues at the boundary rope to get rid of Marizanne Kapp was brilliant. It looked like the ball would sail for six but Rodrigues, who had starred with the bat earlier, plucked it and maintained her balance.

The difference between the two teams was in the powerplay overs. While the Indians made 39, losing just one wicket in the first six overs, they restricted South Africa to just 22 while getting rid of three of their main batters --- skipper Dane Van Niekerk, Sune Luus and Lizelle Lee.

In fact, it was the performance of their bowlers in the powerplay that helped India take stranglehold of the match.

While Pooja Vastrakar kept things tight, Rumeli Dhar and Shikha Pandey cashed in, picking wickets as the Proteas women tried to break the shackles.

Once they had picked three early wickets, they had the opposition on the mat, chipping away. Only big-hitters Kapp and Chloe Tryon could come up with some resistance.

Earlier, India women’s batting that had flopped in the game at Johannesburg, this time ensured a total that the bowlers could play with.

Mithali Raj’s half-century and her 98-run partnership with young batter Jemimah Rodrigues helped India notch up 166/4 in their 20 overs.

Mithali Raj, who was dismissed for a duck in the last T20 began in an aggressive manner with Smriti Mandhana, the two putting on 32 in just over four overs. While Mandhana was out to a brilliant catch in the outfield, the former India T20 skipper continued milking the bowlers who struggled to make a breakthrough on a wicket that had no movement.

It was easy for India batters to come in the line of the ball and hit the ball over the top. The India women managed to hit seven sixes.

The Proteas women applied some brakes in the 16th and 17th overs, picking Raj and Rodrigues. However, Harmanpreet Kaur blitzed to 17-ball 27, hitting two sixes and a four.

Despite losing three wickets, India scored at over 10 in the last five overs thanks mainly to Kaur.

Kapp was also the most successful bowler for the hosts, giving away just 22 runs for one wicket. Skipper Dane Van Niekerk conceded just 22 although she couldn’t pick a wicket.

First Published: Feb 24, 2018 18:40 IST