Smiriti, Poonam shine as India pip SA

Smiriti, Poonam shine as India pip SA

Bengaluru: South Africa eves committed hara-kiri to hand their Indian counterparts an unlikely 16-run win in the one-off T20 international here at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday.

Chasing a competitive total of 147, the visitors, who asked India to bat first, were on course to chase down the target when they were well placed at 88/3 in the 15th over.

However, that was before the well-set Dane van Niekerk (46, 47b, 5x4) ran herself out. Marizanne Kapp (33, 16b, 2x4, 3x6) then took a liking to the dibbly dobblers of debutant Devika Vaidya to bring South Africa closer to the target before spinner
Ekta Bisht engineered a three-wicket burst in four balls in the 18th over.

After Kapp perished in the deep while trying to clear long off, clever fielding off her own bowling enabled Bisht to run out non-striker Nadine Moodley, who had backed up too far. With the visitors in trouble, she bowled Sunette Loubser around her legs to put the hosts in driver’s seat. Needing 27 runs to win off two overs with just the tail, the Proteas had lost the impetus. Poonam Yadav (3/18), who had accounted for the dangerous Lizelle Lee, then bowled a tidy 19th over to further tighten the noose. Earlier, Smriti Mandhana (52, 42b, 5x4) and skipper Mithali Raj (40, 31b, 5x4, 2x6) combined to take the hosts to a challenging score.

The skipper began aggressively by scoring three boundaries in the first two overs. Before long, she dumped a Lizelle full toss for a six over square leg. A few balls later, the same treatment was dished out to Kapp. However, she soon fell to spinner Marcia Letsoalo after nicking a straight forward delivery to keeper Trisha Chetty. And the onus was on Mandhana and the in-form Shikha Pandey to take India to a good total.

Mandhana, a silent observer during Mithali’s innings, took up the mantle by first flicking Marcia Loubser through square leg for a boundary before hoisting Sunette Loubser over extra cover for another four. She forged a crucial 53-run fourth-wicket partnership with Shikha which included three fours off Kapp’s third over, helping the hosts rebuild after a dry spell in the middle overs.And it was that partnership which took India home.

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