Game on as India level series against Proteas women

Game on as India level series against Proteas women
(Photo: Steve Haag/ BackpagePix) The Proteas women during a T20 match against Pakistan at Kingsmead on February 3. South Africa arrived in India on a high after triumphing on home soil. February 2021 © Steve Haag/ BackpagePix

India put on a brilliant performance with both bat and ball to defeat the Proteas women in their second one-day international. The series is now level at one-all.

Still riding high from their dominant victory over India in the first of five one-day internationals (ODIs), the Proteas women were brought back to Earth with a thud as the hosts trounced them in the second.

Hilton Moreeng’s side is eyeing a historic first series victory on Indian soil. Their imperious eight-wicket victory two days ago would have made them believe it is not impossible. 

However, India hit back with an equally imperious nine-wicket win to level the series and remind the South Africans that they will not have it all their way after bowling the visitors out for 157 and effortlessly chasing down that total.

Before the series, the Indians, ranked second in the world in ODIs and boasting some of the best players in the game, had not seen any action since March 2020. South Africa, on the other hand, are fresh off a dominant series victory over Pakistan.

There was no sign of the rustiness the home side displayed in the first match. 

Having won the toss and elected to bowl first, India made light work of the Proteas’ top order, including dismissing the dangerous duo of Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt for a combined run total of just 15. This was in stark contrast to their 163-run contribution in the first ODI. 

Proteas stand-in skipper Sune Luus told the media after the game that despite the trend of the Proteas doing well with the willow when Lee and Wolvaardt lay a solid foundation at the top of the order, the team is not overly dependent on them. 

“I don’t think we’re dependent on them. If you look back at the Pakistan series, there were quite a few batters in the lower order who took us to the 200 mark we needed,” said Luus.

“Today, myself and Lara had good starts. Unfortunately, we didn’t take it deep enough, and obviously afterwards there was no batter who put up their hand. I don’t think we depend on them. It’s obviously ideal if they give us a good start. 

“Otherwise it’s my job at number three and Lara [Goodall] at number four to create a partnership, then when the other batters come in they can just go with the momentum,” added the captain. 

Luus did try to steady the ship alongside Goodall after the loss of Lee and Wolvaardt. The pair put on a promising 60-run partnership for the third wicket. Then Luus, sitting on 36, edged an attempted drive off the bowling of Mansi Joshi, which wicketkeeper Sushma Verma held onto successfully.

Goodall would’ve been hopeful of acquiring another partner to push the Proteas as close to 200 as possible. Potential partners in the form of experienced pair Marizanne Kapp and Mignon du Preez came and went, adding only 10 and 11 runs respectively. 

Goodall soon followed, falling just one run short of 50. With those three successive dismissals South Africa’s pursuit of a defendable total all but faded as they were left languishing on 130 for six. 

Soon it was all over with the bat for the Proteas as they were dismissed for 157 with nine overs still left in their innings. 

The ever-impressive Smriti Mandhana and opener Punam Raut shared an unbeaten 138-run partnership for the second wicket, with India overhauling the target in only 29 overs to ensure that they exact their revenge over the Proteas.     

When Shabnim Ismail claimed the scalp of Raut’s opening partner, Jemimah Rodrigues, in the fifth over, the South Africans would’ve been buoyed and hopeful that they could trouble the Indians with the ball. 

Mandhana and Raut had other ideas as they set up camp and refused to be dislodged from the centre of Ekana Stadium in Lucknow. They ended the match on 80 and 60 runs respectively, ensuring the Proteas don’t run away with the series.  

Luus and her teammates will now recalibrate and refocus in preparation for the third match, which has potential to be a momentum swinger to the benefit of either side in the series. They clash again on Friday. DM


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