Women’s Cricket – IND vs SA: Raj, bowlers star as India seal series 3-1

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February 25, 2018

Brief Scorecard: India 166 for 4 (Raj 62, Rodrigues 44, Harmanpreet 27) beat South Africa 112 (Kapp 27, Tryon 25, Pandey 3-16, Gayakwad 3-26, Dhar 3-26) by 54 runs

Elegant drive by Mithali Raj

February 25, 2018

Brief Scorecard: India 166 for 4 (Raj 62, Rodrigues 44, Harmanpreet 27) beat South Africa 112 (Kapp 27, Tryon 25, Pandey 3-16, Gayakwad 3-26, Dhar 3-26) by 54 runs

Elegant drive by Mithali Raj

CAPE TOWN – India Women rounded off their South African campaign on a high as they notched a comprehensive 54-run win in the fifth and final Twenty20 International at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday (February 24).

The intensity which was missing in the third game of the five-game series returned, and the dominance which was on show in the first two contests also reflected. One of the key reasons for India’s five-wicket loss – the only defeat this series – was Mithali Raj’s dismissal for nought. This time, however, Raj returned to run-scoring ways and set up India’s resounding victory.

Raj’s 50-ball 62, alongside Jemimah Rodrigues’s effervescent 44, guided India to 166 for 4 in 20 overs. But the story of the day was Rumeli Dhar’s return to wicket-taking ways as the veteran medium pacer finished with three wickets for 26 runs from four entertaining overs to help India bowl South Africa out for 112 in 18 overs.

Besides Dhar, Shikha Pandey and Rajeshwari Gayakwad bagged three apiece to curtail South Africa’s dreams of levelling the series.

Coming into the final contest with a 2-1 lead after the fourth T20I was abandoned without a ball being bowled, India were amped to get off the block, and it helped that Dane van Niekerk won the toss and asked the visitors to have a crack with the bat.

There was some movement in the air and off the pitch in the wake of a rain spell before the start of the game but Raj and Smriti Mandhana started strong, guiding the side to 32 inside five overs.

 

Mandhana looked especially good but she, perhaps trapped by the illusion of momentum, went after a length ball outside the off stump and ended up offering Masabata Klaas a catch at midwicket off Marizanne Kapp.

Mithali and Rodrigues then rode the wave as South Africa gained voice, but eventually broke out as their bats got leather hungry.

Rodrigues capitalised on the start by settling in. Her focus was to rotate the strike and put her significant senior in charge, and to the youngster’s delight, all that Mithali touched turned to gold so she didn’t have to switch gears too early. In fact, the timing of Rodrigues’s acceleration was perfect.

Rodrigues was dropped on 15 by Lizelle Lee, the wicketkeeper, off van Niekerk. More than giving her the freedom to add to the score, the problem was with the timing of the drop. It was in the 12th over, and a new batter at that stage of the game could have meant a drop in run rate. Much to India’s luck, they didn’t need to settle.In fact, soon after she was offered the reprieve, Rodrigues kicked to the next gear and got India pushing 100 after 13 overs. India had to wait till 13.3 overs to get past 100, but that was still an incredible position to be in given that they had nine wickets in hand and two very aggressive batters at the crease.

The next time Lee had the chance to catch someone out was in the 16th over when Raj chopped at a short and wide delivery and nicked it to her behind the stumps. Unfortunately, India had 130 runs on board with 25 deliveries left in the innings.

India decelerated significantly thereon, especially after Rodrigues fell to a short ball – that was expected given how streaky she had been with the stroke all day – from Khaka in the 17th over.

It did help that Harmanpreet Kaur, the skipper, blasted 27 runs from 17 balls to take the visiting side to a daunting total.

South Africa were scratchy with the run-scoring from the start, and to make matters worse they lost the wicket of van Niekerk early. The significance of that scalp was evident in the manner of celebration, but it could well have been for Dhar’s first wicket in almost six years.

Dhar would eventually add Lee and Kapp to her list of scalps, and that about saw India to the brink of yet another win. It certainly helped that Pandey and Gayakwad were on top of their game too.

Chloe Tryon (25) and Kapp (27) were the pick of the batters for South Africa, but as it turned out, those contributions didn’t serve the purpose.

Quite expectedly (192 runs from five games at an average of 96), Raj won the player of the match and the player of the series award.


Courtesy/Source: Wisden India