South Africa continued their dominance in the One-Day International (ODI) series against India, by winning the fifth and final match by five wickets at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow on Wednesday (17 March 2021) and thereby, clinching a 4-1 series win.
GAYAKWAD GIVES INDIA HOPE
While India were defending a below-par target of 189, they made a superb start as a bowling unit, with Rajeshwari Gayakwad taking two important wickets early on to bring the hosts back in the contest. The left-arm spinner first dismissed Laura Wolvaardt for a duck, with substitute fielder Jemimah Rodrigues taking a sharp catch at slip. Then, in her next over, Gayakwad managed to dismiss another in-form batter Lara Goodall for 1.
Dayalan Hemalatha, playing in her first international match in over two years, got a crucial breakthrough for India when she bowled Sune Luus for 10. It was a splendid delivery from the India all-rounder, who got the ball to turn in sharply and beat the inside edge of Luus' bat.
TWO NOTABLE PARTNERSHIPS GUIDE SOUTH AFRICA TO WIN
While South Africa seemed to be in trouble at that point with the score reading 27/3, the duo of Mignon du Preez and Anneke Bosch put on a 96-run partnership for the fourth wicket. Du Preez and Bosch batted with contrasting approaches – while the former was watchful, the latter was aggressive and batted at a strike rate of 80+. This stand put the Proteas in front once again and from thereon, they were in control of the run-chase.
It was Challuru Prathyusha, on her international debut, who finally broke the partnership for India, getting the wicket of Bosch for 58. Not long after, Gayakwad dismissed the other set batter du Preez for 57.
There was no panic from the visitors as Marizanne Kapp and Nadine de Klerk's unbeaten 58-run partnership saw South Africa secure a comfortable win. Kapp, by her standards, didn’t have the greatest of series, but for the second successive match, she saw her team home with the bat, this time with an unbeaten 36 from 42 deliveries.
Despite India ending up on the wrong side of the result, Gayakwad was sensational. Not only did she take three wickets, she conceded just 13 runs in her 10 overs, bowling as many as four maidens.
INDIA STRUGGLE AFTER BEING PUT INTO BAT
Earlier, South Africa won the toss and, like they did previously in this series, opted to bowl first. Interestingly, all five matches in the series were won by the team opting to chase after winning the toss.
South Africa's pace bowling duo of Shabnim Ismail and Kapp bowled excellently early on in this game and they got their reward when the latter bowled Priya Punia for 18. Punia had taken the bulk of the strike during the opening partnership and had hit four boundaries before she fell to Kapp.
India then found themselves in a bit of trouble after losing the wickets of Punam Raut and Smriti Mandhana in successive overs soon after the first Powerplay had ended. Bowling changes worked well for South Africa, with Nondumiso Shangase and Tumi Sekhukhune both striking in their first overs.
While Mandhana played some top shots during her stay in the middle, unfortunately for her, most of them went straight to the fielders. Her dismissal, though, saw du Preez take a superb diving catch at deep square leg.
MITHALI STARS, BUT DE KLERK AND CO. RESTRICT INDIA TO 188
Harmanpreet Kaur and Mithali Raj then batted cautiously and ensured that India got back on track, with the experienced duo putting on a fifty-run partnership to lead India's fightback. This was the 14th time that Mithali and Harmanpreet put together a partnership of 50+ runs in ODIs. But just as the batters were taking control, Harmanpreet had to go off the field due to an injury, which was a massive blow for India.
While Mithali brought up her 55th ODI half-century, she didn’t find much support from the other end. Hemalatha and Sushma Verma weren't able to get going, as they were dismissed for 2 and 0 respectively by de Klerk.
After losing wickets at regular wickets, India could manage only a total of 188/9 in 49.3 overs. With Harmanpreet having gone off the field earlier, that was the end of the innings for the hosts. Mithali played an excellent knock, slamming eight fours and one six, and was unbeaten on 79 when she ran out of partners.
The Proteas bowling was excellent, with de Klerk taking three wickets while Sekhukhune and Shangase also bowled well, accounting for two dismissals each.
Winning a series in India is far from an easy task and South Africa were absolutely brilliant in the series. In fact, they’ve been in sublime form recently, winning 10 of the last 11 ODI matches that they have played which is very encouraging for them with a World Cup less than a year away.
On the other hand, while they didn’t enjoy the luck of the coin toss, India will be disappointed with their performances. But it must be remembered this series was their first international outing in a year’s time and lack of game time might have played a role.