India beat the Proteas women in the third T20 International, but Hilton Moreeng’s team wil be the happier having already clinched the series.
CAPE TOWN – The Proteas Women’s team may have been thumped in the final dead-rubber T20I on Tuesday, but their tour of India has been an unqualified success.
Hilton Moreeng’s side arrived on the subcontinent three weeks ago with a miserable record in India and with the painful memories of their 2019 visit still fresh in their memory.
But they now depart for home with both the ODI and T20I trophies firmly tucked away in the baggage compartment.
The 4-1 (ODI) and 2-1 (T20I) success was built upon the width of Lizelle Lee’s bat and Shabnim Ismail’s pace, but each and every member of the squad can be proud of their contribution at any given time.
The fact that things never went according to plan on Tuesday can be put away as lessons learnt for the future.
India’s spinners were very good, particularly Rajeshwari Gayakwad, who turned in a match-winning performance of 4-1-9-3. The left-arm slow bowler had South Africa in early trouble when she clean bowled both openers Anneke Bosch (0) and Lizelle Lee (12) within the PowerPlay.
With South Africa also losing the influential Laura Wolvaardt for a duck to a splendid catch by Deepti Sharma at short cover off the bowling of Radha Yadav shortly afterwards, it was always going to be an uphill battle from 16/3.
Captain Suné Luus attempted to stage a recovery with a 25-ball 28 and Lara Goodall ensured the tail wagged with an undefeated 25 off 17 balls, but 112/7 was always below par on such a placid batting surface.
The World’s No 1 T20 batter Shafali Varma then showed what a good pitch it really was. The explosive teenager put on a pyrotechnics show of the highest quality that anyone inside the Lucknow Stadium might have thought it was Diwali such was the fireworks coming off Varma’s bat.
She also showed that reputations mean nothing to her as she attacked South Africa’s premier fast bowler Ismail.
From the moment the first boundary flew off her blade, there was no stopping Varma (60 off 30 balls) as Ismail suffered the indignity of conceding 37 runs from her two overs.
Varma really is a phenomenon in the global women’s game and it really seems absurd that she has yet to make her ODI bow, especially as she required just 26 balls to post her half-century.
Her partner Smriti Mandhana (48* off 28 balls) is no slouch either. While the Indian skipper was initially content to watch the 17-year-old bludgeon the Proteas attack to all corners, she too soon found her stride.
Whereas Varma is all power, Mandhana has the class and skill to pierce any inner ring with precision.
And it was fitting that the captain finished the game in style with three consecutive boundaries off Nadine de Klerk.
India may have won this battle, but the Proteas definitely won the war on this tour.
South Africa: 112/7 (Luus 28, Goodall 25*, Gayakwad 3/9)
India: 114/1 (Varma 60, Mandhana 48*, Shangase 1/18)
India won by 9 wickets, SA won the series 2-1