The home season for the Indian women’s team gets underway in Surat. Both teams started their preparation for the T20 World Cup next year and had debutants in their side. The 15-year old Shafali Verma and 19-year old Nonkululeko Mlaba made debuts for their respective sides. Both didn’t have the best start to their international career but it will give them a lot of confidence.
Having asked to bat first, the home team didn’t have the best of the starts as the 15-year-old debutant Shafali Verma departed to Shabnim Ismail on the fourth ball of the innings courtesy of a brilliant diving catch by Tumi Sekhukhune. She departed without troubling the scorers. The in-form batters Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues were in the middle. The duo started to build the innings but in the last over of the fielding restrictions, Mandhana was caught at the point of a full-toss on 21(16). Shangase had the last laugh as she had gone for 2 consecutive boundaries before taking her revenge. At the end of the powerplay, India was 34/2.
The rebuilding phase was needed in the middle, with the Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur joining Jemimah. The duo found odd boundaries and kept the scoreboard moving. In the 10th over, Jemimah found out long on trying to up the ante. She departed on 19(25). At the halfway stage, the score was 59/3. Team India needed to score quickly in the middle phase when Harmanpreet Kaur started to free her arms. She along with Deepti Sharma put a fine partnership of 46 runs. But in the 16th over, Nadine de Klerk picked 2 crucial wickets of Deepti Sharma and Kaur in the space of 3 balls. Deepti went for a run a ball 16 while Kaur departed for 43(34) comprising of 3 fours and 2 huge sixes. This dented the momentum and India soon started losing wickets at regular intervals. The last 5 overs produced only 28 runs and India lost 5 wickets. India finished on 130/8 in their full quota of 20 overs.
Harmanpreet Kaur top-scored for the home team with 43. Shabnim Ismail was the pick of the bowlers picking 3-26 in her 4. Nadine de Klerk too picked 2-10 in her 2 overs. Ayabonga Khaka bowled one of the best spells, finishing with figures of 4-1-10-0. She bowled 15 dots.
With 131 to chase down, the visitors got off to a flier with Lizelle Lee taking on the Indian pacers. The first over from Pooja Vastrakar produced 18 runs until Shikha Pandey knocked her in the 2nd over. Lee departed for an entertaining 16(11) which included 4 fours. Wolvaardt joined Brits but it was hard work for the South African batters as they couldn’t rotate the strike. Deepti Sharma bowled a magnificent spell of 2 overs, both maidens and picking 2 wickets of Brits and de Klerk. At the end of the powerplay, the visitors were 35/3.
Soon the spinners started to operate from both ends and dried the scoring rate. Poonam Yadav picked 2 wickets in consecutive deliveries in the 9th over. At the halfway stage, the scoreboard read 51/5. The first 2 overs produced 25 runs but the next 8 overs produced only 26 runs. Mignon du Preez was the lone fighter but she needed some support from the other end. They managed to score 29 runs in the next 5 overs but lost 2 more wickets. 51 runs were required in the last 5. The next 2 overs produced 24 runs and the South African camp started believing. But Shikha Pandey used her experience and picked up the wicket of Khaka giving only a run in the 18th overs she bowled. With 26 runs required in last 2, Deepti Sharma gave 8 runs in the penultimate over. Radha Yadav was given the job to defend 18 in the last over. The first ball sailed over long-off for a maximum that came of du Preez’s bat. The next 2 balls were missed by du Preez and the 4th ball eventually led to her downfall when she tried to hoick Radha Yadav by stepping out. It was a very fine inning by du Preez ending on 59(43) comprising of 4 fours and 3 sixes. Taniya Bhatia stumped Mlaba the very next ball to end the innings on 119 and go 1-0 up in the series.
Mignon du Preez tried very hard to get her team across the line but eventually fell short by 11 runs courtesy of Deepti Sharma’s bowling. She ended with figures of 4-3-8-3. Shikha Pandey, Poonam Yadav, and Radha Yadav also chipped in with 2 wickets each. Deepti Sharma was awarded the player of the match for her stunning bowling efforts. Both teams will now focus on the next game on 26th September.