INDW v/s SAW: South Africa take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series
The Indian bowlers fail to impress in the absence of Jhulan Goswami as South Africa take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series.
The Women in Blue fell to their second successive defeat and surrendered the series tamely as South Africa Women cruised to an easy seven-wicket win with more than an over to spare at Ekana Stadium in Lucknow.
Sent into bat for the second time in as many games, the Indian women yet again lost an early wicket as Smriti Mandhana fell cheaply for 10, thanks to Shabnim Ismail. Replacing the out of form Jemimah Rodrigues, Priya Punia (32) took her time to settle in but looked in some good touch before gifting her wicket to the off-spinner, Nondumiso Shangase to leave India at 61 for 2 at the start of the sixteenth over.
It was at this moment that an in-form Punam Raut was joined by skipper Mithali Raj as the duo stitched a wonderful 103 run stand to ensure no more troubles for India. The duo took time to settle in and then exploded as the South African bowlers looked clueless in the field. Though Raj fell for a well-made 41 in the 38th over of the innings in a bid to increase the scoring rate, Raut made sure that she kept going from one end.
Replacing her skipper at the crease, Harmanpreet Kaur (54) came out all guns blazing to register a half-century of just 33 deliveries. But even as Kaur fell soon after her half-century, Raut continued to make merry to bring up her third ODI century off 119 deliveries.
Often criticised for her strike-rate hovering around the mid-50s, Raut (104*) played a free-flowing innings to take India to 266-4 at the end of their 50 overs, with Deepti Sharma (8*) for company.
For the South African Women, Tumi Sekhukhune, albeit expensive, was the most successful bowler with figures of 2-63 in 8 overs. While Ismail and Shangase pocketed one each.
Chasing a more than decent total to win, the South African openers – Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt once again started in a destructive fashion as they stitched a 116 runs opening stand in just 23 overs.
Playing without their most experienced bowler, Jhulan Goswami, the Indian bowlers looked completely lost in the field and it took Kaur's part-time off-spin to get the first breakthrough as she scalped Lee for 69.
Stand-in-skipper, Wolvaardt soon brought up her half-century in the company of Lara Goodall before falling for a well-made 53 to leave South Africa at 133-2. With 134 more to get, what followed was a brilliant counterattack from Goodall and Mignon du Preez as the duo – Preez in particular, smashed the clueless Indian bowlers all around the park to stitch a 102 run partnership in just around 17 overs.
When Rajeshwari Gayakwad finally managed to prize out Preez after she scored 61 off 55 deliveries, South Africa needed just 31 more runs to win. Goodall soon brought up her half-century (59*) with Kapp (22*) for the company and made sure that South Africa take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the 5 match ODI series.