While Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt began the run-chase with a fantastic century partnership, it was the 103-run stand for the third wicket between Lara Goodall and Mignon du Preez which more or less sealed the match and, as a result, the series for South Africa. With each of their top four batters notching up fifties, South Africa defeated India by seven wickets and secured an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow on Sunday (14 March 2021).
CLINICAL BATTING DISPLAY BY SOUTH AFRICA
Chasing 267, Lizelle Lee continued from where she left off in the third ODI, notching up another 50+ score. She took only 57 deliveries to reach her half-century and one impressive aspect of Lee's batting was how well she played the sweep shot against the Indian spinners. But in the end, it was what led to her dismissal as she missed a sweep shot and was out leg-before-wicket for 69. It was Harmanpreet Kaur with the wicket for India.
At the other end, Wolvaardt was also superb with the opening duo putting on a first wicket partnership of 116. South Africa's stand-in skipper brought up her second fifty of the series before she was caught behind off the bowling of Mansi Joshi. While there were a few economical overs from India after the dismissal of Lee, the partnership between Goodall and du Preez put the Proteas in command once again.
Du Preez scored 61 from just 55 deliveries, hitting as many as eight fours and one six. In fact, the three consecutive boundaries she hit in the 40th over of the innings brought the required run-rate down to almost a run-a-ball.
While du Preez was dismissed by Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Goodall ensured that she was there until the end to see the Proteas home. The left-handed batter, after missing out on a fifty by just one run in the second ODI, was unbeaten on 59 at the end. In what was an excellent all-round batting performance as Marizanne Kapp too chipped in with a quickfire 22.
India decided to go into this game with only one frontline pacer and that tactic didn’t quite work, with the South African batters not troubled much by spin through their innings.
What a series win for @OfficialCSA 🇿🇦, missing their two skippers Sune, Dane and Cherry they have managed to chase their highest total in ODI!! Very impressive and are building up nicely as an extremely strong contender for the @cricketworldcup in 2022. 👏🏽👏🏽— Lisa Sthalekar (@sthalekar93) March 14, 2021
PUNAM RAUT’S HUNDRED PROPELS INDIA
Earlier, with teams batting second having won the first three matches in the series, it was no surprise to see South Africa opting to bowl first after winning the toss.
Shabnim Ismail bowled really well in this series and also got an important breakthrough for South Africa early on in this game, dismissing Smriti Mandhana for 10. It was Ismail's 150th wicket in ODIs, with Lee taking a sharp catch at slip. There were a few nervous moments for India soon after, but after a slow start to the second wicket partnership, both batters – Priya Punia and Punam Raut – got some momentum going in the final over of the first Powerplay, with 15 runs coming from the over.
South Africa then did splendidly to keep India's scoring rate down in the middle overs. Between overs 11-31, India managed only 81 runs and also lost the wicket of Punia. The right-handed opener, who was playing her first match of the series, got off to a start and was playing a solid knock before being dismissed by Nondumiso Shangase for 32, with Ayabonga Khaka taking a fine catch.
Shangase did a fantastic job for South Africa, conceding just 41 runs from her 10 overs, thereby playing a significant part in the visitors keeping the pressure on India's batters.
While they were cautious earlier in the innings, Raut and Mithali Raj upped the ante once they got their eye in. The duo put on a partnership of 103 for the third wicket, with Raut notching up her third successive 50+ score during this period.
Mithali, during her innings of 45, became the first batter to reach 7,000 runs in women's ODIs. She has done so at a batting average of 50.49 which is an exceptional feat. In this match, it looked like she was all set for a big score but was dismissed by Tumi Sekhukhune while attempting a big shot during the Batting Powerplay. The Batting Powerplay, though, was very productive for India as they managed 46 runs in those five overs.
Raut hit fifties in the two previous matches and, on this occasion, she went one better as she brought up her third ODI century. It was a fantastic effort from Raut, who after a slow start, took the attack to the South African bowling and finished her innings unbeaten on 104 from 123 deliveries.
Meanwhile, Harmanpreet also played a sensational innings to give India a much-needed push during the death overs. While she announced her intentions with two boundaries from the first three deliveries she faced, she went on to reach her half-century in only 33 deliveries.
On the back of Raut's hundred and useful contributions from other batters, India put up a total of 266/4 in their 50 overs. At the mid-innings break, you would have thought that India held the advantage. After all, South Africa’s highest successful run-chase in ODIs before this game was a target of 263. But like the saying goes, records are meant to be broken.