Defending a modest total of 130 runs against South Africa in the first T20I at Surat on Tuesday, India Women took home a thriller in the final over by 11 runs. Courtesy Mignon Du Prez's spirited cameo of 59-runs-off-43 balls, who kept the entire stadium on its feet and Indian fielders close to boundary till the last over of the game, South Africa Women took the game to the deep end.
Not the kind of result everyone hoped for when South Africa started with 18 runs in the first over. It was the Indian bowlers who turned the game on its head and pulled it in their favour.
As it happened
Lizelle Lee cleared her intention in the very first over by striking three fours off Pooja Vastrakar who joined the team after a long layoff. She took 18 runs from that over before Shikha Pandey cleaned her up with a beautiful inswinger in the very next over.
Despite getting a good start, South Africa, somehow, lost the plot early in their innings by losing quick wickets in no time. Deepti Sharma should be given credit for her performance. She led the attack once Pooja was taken off and bagged the two crucial wickets of Tazmin Brits and Nadine de Klerk in the span of 4 balls. Deepti registered best figures of her career with 3/8 in 4 overs.
The pressure created by Deepti's maiden overs was nicely cashed in by Poonam Yadav at the other end. A googly to remove Laura Wolvaardt and a stunner from Mandhana to remove captain, Sune Luus was the icing on the cake for India. If anything South Africa needed here, was someone who could support Du Preez to chase down the target. On one end, hungry Indian lionesses were hunting down the lower order, on other, Du Preez kept the Proteas' hope alive.
Timely paced innings with calculative risk, Du Preez took the match to the last over with 18 required. With spinners to come, she was confident of hitting three biggies. The very first ball of the final over, she sent to the stands, now equation came down to 12 off 5. Unfortunately, she couldn't connect the 4th ball of the over and got stumped. However, it was a top-class effort and pure entertainment for the crowd.
Earlier, India Women playing their first game of the series were given a tough task to bat first on an unknown surface to both the teams. It was the first-ever international match held at Lalbhai Contractor Stadium, Surat. Still, confident of the preparation, Harmanpreet didn't shy away from handing over the debut cap to Shafali Verma. Debutant joined Smriti Mandhana for the opening slot and just after four balls, she holed out to Tumi Sekhukhune at mid-on. Certainly, not the kind of debut she'd expected - a four-ball duck.
Mandhana led the charge and kept the scoreboard ticking for the next five overs or so before she miscued a high full toss to point. Already struggling team India was in search of a calm head who could steady the innings from here. Then, Harmanpreet Kaur came to the rescue.
Jemimah and Harman steadied the jiggling Indian ship and put up a decent partnership of 30 runs. Harmanpreet survived a chance but, didn't look back to it. She helped India to reach 100 runs quickly. India couldn't recover since Harman's departure except for a little cameo from Taniya Bhatia (11 off 5) in the end. India ended with 130 on the board, which turned out as a match-winning total.
Playing under lights after a long time since World T20, it was a unique experience for team India. Hope the experience only enhances and brings spectators in huge numbers in the upcoming games to support Indian Women Cricket Team.
Brief Score: India women 130 for 8 (Harmanpreet 43, Ismail 3-26, de Klerk 2-10) beat South Africa women 119 all out (du Preez 59, Deepti 3-8, Poonam 2-25) by 11 runs