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Masterful Smriti Mandhana leads the way as India sweep series against South Africa

On Sunday here in the city, the host team treated the near-15,000 crowd at the M Chinnaswamy stadium with a 3-0 sweep quite comfortably but Mandhana fell 10 runs short of a third consecutive century to become the evening's ‘if only’ moment.
Last Updated : 23 June 2024, 15:13 IST

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Bengaluru: With a 2-0 lead, the three-match ODI series against South Africa was sealed, but India were seeking a clean sweep. There were two back-to-back hundreds under her belt, but Smriti Mandhana had her eyes set on a third ton.

On Sunday here in the city, the host team treated the near-15,000 crowd at the M Chinnaswamy stadium with a 3-0 sweep quite comfortably but Mandhana fell 10 runs short of a third consecutive century to become the evening's ‘if only’ moment.

After restricting the Proteas for 215/8, India, powered by the left-handed opener’s 83-ball 90, ran away with a six-wicket victory to clinch all the three 50-over contests before the teams head to Chennai for a one-off Test and three T20Is starting June 28.

Sticking to the formula of pacing her innings well, Mandhana matched her technical ability with mental mettle once again. It was spinner Nonkululeko Mlaba’s full length ball that Mandhana mistimed for Ayabonga Khaka to hold on to a catch at short fine leg. Her 90 had 11 boundaries with seven of them smashed on the leg side.

Captain Laura Wolvaardt’s call for her players to put themselves on the line to defend an average total was adhered to. Their jostle for claiming wickets or saving every run as a fielding side, however, was blinded by a more disciplined batting side on the day.

Among the other batters, Shafali Verma threw away her wicket at 25, Priya Punia added 28 runs while Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur’s 48-ball 42 was enough to take them across the line.

Having chosen to bat first when the day began, Wolvaardt and Tazmin Brits gave the visitors a steady start. At 46/0 in the first 10 overs, the opening duo looked like they were well set to stay deep, especially Wolvaardt. 

The 25-year-old added her 32nd ODI half-century and went on to build a three-figure (102) partnership with Brits. With Indian bowlers causing little trouble until then, Arundhati Reddy got the first break in the 20th over when her outside off delivery to Wolvaardt came straight back to the pacer in a jiffy. The caught and bowled removed the skipper for 61 in 57 balls.

With the experienced Marizanne Kapp walking in, Brits continued to shoulder the burden. That, however, came to an abrupt end when the batters had a mix-up. The run out of Brits in the 21st over with the scoreboard reading 104-2 was the beginning of more problems for the South Africans.

Two more caught-and-bowled efforts, another miscommunication among batters for a second run out and Deepti Sharma claiming two back-to-back wickets in the 44th meant the Proteas huffed and puffed to 215 for eight in 50 overs.

The target, in the end, was too little to keep Indians at bay.  

Brief scores: South Africa: 215/8 in 50 overs (Laura Wolvaardt 61, Tazmin Brits 38, Nadine de Klerk 26, Mieke de Ridder 26 n.o.; Arundhati Reddy 2-36, Deepti Sharma 2-27) lt to India: 220/4 in 40.4 overs (Smriti Mandhana 90, Harmanpreet Kaur 42, Shafali Verma 25, Priya Punia 28).

Result: India won by 6 wkts. PoM: Deepti Sharma. 3-match ODI series: India won 3-0. PoS: Smriti Mandhana.

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Published 23 June 2024, 15:13 IST

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