Shikha helps India level

Shikha helps India level

An all-round performance from Shikha Pandey helped Indian eves to a comfortable six-wicket win over their South African counterparts in the second ODI here at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Wednesday.

Needing a victory to stay alive in the three-match series, Shikha (3/19 and 59), in the company of Harmanpreet Kaur (42 n.o., 61b, 4x4), mixed caution with aggression to guide the hosts home with 32 balls to spare.

Asked to bat first, the South African batters were struggling at one stage before creaming the Indian bowlers for 49 runs in the last five overs to push their total to 186/8 in their 50 overs. Much of the carnage was because of Chloe Tryon (49, 34b, 4x4, 1x6) who scored a staggering 18 runs in the last over of the innings, bowled by Shubhlakshmi Sharma.

The Indian chase, which was maintaining a less than healthy run-rate of three per over for the first 30 overs, looked to be floundering when skipper Mithali Raj (6) and the dangerous Poonam Raut (47) left to leave the hosts on a tricky 73/3. But Shikha and Harmanpreet, who forged a run-a-ball 89-run alliance, upended the script.

After lofting spinner Sunette Loubser for a six to get her innings underway, she proceeded to play the drive in front of square against both Dane van Niekerk and Marcia Letsoalo. The retreating Proteas’ fielders told their own story as the right-handed Shikha, who was brought into the side in place of Poonam Yadav, found boun­daries at will.

By the time Mignon du Preez caught Shikha in the cover off Marizanne Kapp, the match was reduced to a formality.

Earlier, the visitors batted like they were searching for the ignition switch in the wrong place. Having gotten off to a non descript start, Shikha and Bisht further choked the scoring rate with a stump-to-stump line. And it was just a matter of time before the wickets fell.

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