5th ODI – Mithali Raj’s 79* in vain as South Africa defeat India to clinch the ODI series 4-1

In the last game of the ODI series, South Africa won the toss and elected to chase. With four changes on the Indian side (IN- Jhulan Goswami, Monica Patel, Dayalan Hemalatha, Challuru Prathyusha; OUT: Radha Yadav, Poonam Yadav, Deepti Sharma, Mansi Joshi) and two changes on the South African side (IN- Sune Luus, Nadine de Klerk; OUT: Lizelle Lee, Ayabonga Khaka), the visitors aimed to take their tally to 4-1 and the hosts India aimed at defending the game to take the series tally to 3-2. 

 

South Africa Women's Cricket Team defeat India 4-1 in ODI Series. PC: Twitter
South Africa Women’s Cricket Team defeat India 4-1 in ODI Series. PC: Twitter

1st Innings: Indian Skipper Mithali Raj, 79*, stands strong till the end as South African bowlers dismiss all other Indian players

The opening pair Smriti Mandhana and Priya Punia opened the innings with the latter taking the strike. Punia opened the game with a boundary on the very first ball of the game giving a headstart to team India. When Mandhana hit the ball for a boundary in the third over, after scoring no runs in the second over except for a wide, it seemed like the team was in form. But South Africa’s strong fielding did not let India look for many runs.

Marizanne Kapp’s short delivery on the middle and leg led Priya to drift the ball to the boundary as the fine leg fielder did not get a chance to stop the ball. She had started picking spots where she wanted the ball to land. She proved to be lucky in the game as she was able to remain on the field after two risky shots led to her wicket almost being fallen.

One such instance was when Priya took an inside edge when the ball went past stumps and was dropped on a bouncer after Shabnim Ismail’s fastball made her try for a pull shot. The ball hit the bat, and then the helmet before taking an elevation and landed in front of two fielders. At the end of 5 overs, India was 25/0.

In the very next over, Kapp bowled very intelligently leaving no scope for Punia to either hit the ball or defend it, which caused her the first wicket for team India. Missing the ball because of poor footwork, Priya Punia had to pay the price as she was knocked over at 18(25) leaving India at 26/1 at the end of the sixth over.

Punam Raut walked in with the bat as Nadine de Klerk came into the attack. Just like Punia, Raut hit the first ball of her innings for a boundary going steady till the 8th over, before de Klerk bowled a maiden 9th over. Mandhana wasn’t able to pick up a single run in the over.

Soon, the top scorer for India in this series, Punam Raut, was sent back to base by Nondumiso Shangase. Raut failed to get the ball over the top of the fine-leg fielder when she went for a sweep shot and was caught by Nadine de Klerk at short fine leg. In the very next over, Tumi Sekhukhune struck on her first ball of the innings as Smriti Mandhana was caught by Mignon du Preez. Mandhana hit the ball aerial when the ball went into the deep square leg and du Preez dived in front of the ball to send Mandhana back. India had lost 2 wickets in 2 balls as a double change in bowling worked twice in favor of the South Africans.

Raut and Mandhana had to exit with captain Mithali Raj and vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur coming in. Losing three early wickets, India stood at 53/3 at the end of the 13th over.

South Africa’s fielding lineup was set so well that Indian batters couldn’t find any gaps to hit the ball. India scored just 7 runs in the next 4 overs and was stranded at 60/3 at the end of the 17th over. Finally, Mithali Raj hit a huge six as she used her feet perfectly, judging the ball and hitting at a place with no fielders on the boundary. Adding runs to the board, Harman hit the ball for a boundary as the ball went to the fence quickly, leaving no time for the fielders to chase.

The duo picked up a little pace slowly and steadily as they hit few boundaries and brought a 50-run partnership. Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur set a record for the most 50+ partnership for India, taking their tally to 14 with today’s game and achieving the feat in 45 innings. The boundaries didn’t stop then as both Raj and Kaur were set firm on the field and were able to add runs to the total. Just when the partnership had set in, Kaur had to walk back as she didn’t look much comfortable on the field and took the decision to rest. It wasn’t a good sign for India as their game had just started going. 

As Kaur walked off, Dayalan Hemalatha entered the crease to join Mithali Raj. The run rate had reduced as it became difficult for the new entrant to score. Mithali was nearing her half-century as she stood at 48* at the end of the 36th over. With the skipper ready to bring her 50, de Klerk got her first wicket when Hemalatha was caught behind at 2(15). Poor execution by Hemalatha was seen on the field as wicket-keeper Sinalo Jafta dove to the right, behind the stumps, to get an outstanding catch. 

As Sushma Verma walked in, India was 137/4. 

Mithali Raj brought up her 55th half-century in 78 deliveries and everyone from the dressing room stood up to applaud the skipper’s yet another well-built performance as she led the team from the front at such a crucial stage of the game. Raj has been very consistent over the years and has maintained the form. With the top order failing and Harmanpreet Kaur retiring hurt, Raj took the pressure and handled it very well. 

Sushma Verma had to go for a suck as de Klerk got her second scalp and took her out for no runs in 10 deliveries. A good length ball on the middle and leg line got Verma out for an LBW. After missing the 4th ODI, Jhulan Goswami was back on the crease in this match to join the skipper as India struggled at a low score of 139/5. 

All eyes were on the skipper as she had taken the responsibility to take the game further for India. Goswami’s experience excelled as she joined Raj in hitting a boundary to add a little to the total. India was lucky as Goswami was dropped by wicket-keeper Jafta on Ismail’s ball, who hadn’t picked a wicket till then. 

Mithali Raj’s timing with the shots is worth watching and talking about. She waited for the right time to hit the right shot, placing the ball perfectly on the outside off sending it for a boundary. But South Africa showed great efforts while fielding as they restricted a lot of boundaries later. 

Jhulan Goswami couldn’t resist hitting the ball in the third ball of the 44th over, as she swung her bat with very little power with the bat and was caught by Sekhukhune on Shangase’s ball at long-on. A full-toss ball by the bowler but a power-less shot by the batter caused India another wicket. India stood 158/6 when left-hander Monica Patel entered. 

After Harman’s exit, Raj struggled to find the perfect ally for a partnership. With no news coming from the dressing room, the chances of the vice-captain returning to the field kept reducing. A left-hand and a right-hand combination seemed to work for India for a while as Monica was able to hit boundaries on her off-side. Soon, another wicket went down in front of Raj as Monica had to depart at 9(11). Taking her third wicket for the day, de Klerk was supported by Laura Wolvaardt who caught Patel’s ball. 

Debutant Chellaru Prathyusha entered the crease as she joined Mithali Raj too. Within no time, she walked back too as Mignon du Preez showed brilliant fielding with her direct hit, taking the stumps away! A Raj hit the ball to the short third-man fielder outside off, Prathyusha took too long to run, costing a run-out. A great throw by du Preez led to the second wicket in the over. Raj lost her 5th partner when Rajeshwari Gayakwad walked in, who also was the last batter from India’s line us. 

Refusing singles in the death overs, Mithali Raj retained the strike as much as possible, by maintaining the strike for the first five balls of the 49th over. Gayakwad worked smart too as she defended the last ball very well, giving the strike to Raj for the last over.

Great wit and excellence was seen from Mithali’s end as she aimed to end the innings and go on till the last ball of the 50th over. But that couldn’t happen as Rajeshwari lost her wicket when she tried to hit the ball while trying to give back the strike to Raj. Harmanpreet Kaur’s absence was surely felt on the field as India could only score 188 runs, thereby posting a target of 189 for South Africa to chase. 

2nd Innings: Rajeshwari Gayakwad posts unbelievable bowing figures but South Africa’s middle-order takes their side to claim yet another victory.

As Lizelle Lee missed out on the game and Skipper Sune Luus returned, he opened the innings alongside Laura Wolvaardt. Indian pacer Jhulan Goswami opened the bowling attack for India after missing out on the previous ODI and Harmanpreet Kaur (retired hurt) was replaced by Jemimah Rodrigues as the substitute. 

Very impressive bowling by the experienced pacer to start with as she conceded just one run off the first over, that being wide. Rajeshwari Gayakwad in her very first over got the breakthrough for India as she took down Laura Wolvaardt, 0(5), for a duck in the second over. She was caught by Jemimah on the slip as she walked back, sending Lara Goodall to the field at No. 3. After great knocks by Wolvaardt in the previous ODIs, this came as a major shock to South Africa. 

After Jhulan’s 3rd over, Gayakwad came into attack again for the 4th over and struck again, this time taking Lara Goodall out for an LBW. Goodall got her front foot across to play the ball but the ball spin past the bat. Two back-to-back wicket maidens for spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad as Mignon du Preez couldn’t concede any runs in the remaining balls which left South Africa at 3/2 at the end of the 4th over. Like India felt the absence of Harmanpreet Kaur with the bat, South Africa surely felt the absence of Lizelee Lee. 

Skipper Sune Luus and Mignon du Preez’s experience was seen through the bat as they kept hitting the ball for the boundary on Jhulan and Monica’s balls. It seemed to be the spinner’s game as Dayalan Hemalatha, who couldn’t add runs on board with the bat, took down skipper Sune Luus for 10(26) in her first over, leaving no scope for a partnership. Luus went for the ball leaving a gap between the bat and the pad, as the ball turned off the surface to hit the stumps.

Delivering the ball to perfection, Hemalatha got her first as Anne Bosch walked in with South Africa at 29/3 at the end of 11th over.

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Indian spinners performed great till the 15th over as Rajeshwari Gayakwad bowled 3 overs, all of which were maiden overs, thereby claiming 2 wickets. 

A huge appeal was seen on debutant Prathyusha’s first ball as she tried to trap Anne Bosch on the back pad. Replying in style, Bosch hit her for two boundaries in the same over. Going strong for the 4th wicket partnership, Mignon du Preez and Anne Bosch added crucial 50 runs to their partnership. Conceding just 1 run in the 23rd over, Gayakwad bowled brilliantly to restrict the visitors.

South Africa’s game went almost the same as India as they scored 86 runs at the loss of 3 wickets at the end of the 27th over, and India were 100/3 during their innings. Anne Bosch’s game kept getting better as she managed to hit the balls with power and send the ball towards the fence. Both the batters were closing their half-centuries as they stayed on the field and kept rotating strikes at regular intervals. 

Mignon du Preez brought up her 16th half-century in 85 deliveries which were also her second 50 in a row. Up next, Bosch completed her half-century with a powerful boundary. Hitting the ball in the gap, she brought up her maiden 50! The dressing room once again stood up to applaud the efforts of the young player. 

India got their breakthrough when Challuru Prathyusha claimed her maiden wicket in the form of Anne Bosch, thereby breaking the 96-run stand between the two, and dismissing her at 58(70). Just when Bosch had smashed the ball, Mithali Raj leaped into the air to get a smart catch. South Africa was at 123/4 when Marizanne Kapp walked in. 

Within no time, du Preez was also taken down as Gayakwad registered her 3rd wicket of the game as Raj caught the ball with the utmost ease. Both the hitters departed after scoring a half-century each. By the end of the 37th over, South Africa required 58 runs off 78 deliveries to win. 

Nadine de Klerk and Marizanne Kapp hit the ball in the gap to take their score to 154/5 at the end of 40th over. Rajeshwari Gayakwad completed her brilliant spell bowling 10 overs which included 4 maidens, just 13 runs, and 3 wickets! In the 42nd over, de Klerk was dropped by Goswami on Prathyusha’s ball when the South African tossed the ball up in the air when Goswami came in from long-off, dropped the catch, and hurt herself in the process. 

Kapp hit Patel for a six when the team required 7 to win off 12 balls and leveled the score. The duo stood strong till the end of their innings, as they chased down the score with 10 balls remaining. Even with Lizelle Lee missing out on the game, South Africa’s middle-order managed to put up a good amount of runs to the scoreboard, taking their side to a 4-1 series victory.

The Proteas have now won 10 of their last 11 ODIs. Beating India in their home ground, without a shade of doubt, the South African side will be looked forward to in the upcoming years. 

Post-Match Presentation:

Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur were felicitated by the UPCA. Mithali Raj for becoming the first Indian woman to score 10000+ international career runs and 7000+ ODI International runs & Harmanpreet Kaur for becoming the 5th Indian woman to play 100 one-day international matches.

Rajeshwari Gayakwad was given the ‘Kamaal ka Moment’ award for her amazing spell of 10-4-13-3.

Marizanne Kapp was named the Game Changer of the Match for her brilliant knock in the game, leading South Africa to victory.

Anne Bosch was named the Player of the Match for her phenomenal knock of 58(70) in the game.

Lizelle Lee was named the Player of the Series with a total of 288 runs in her bag in just 4 matches, at an average of 144.00.

The two teams will now be playing a three-match T20I series scheduled on 20th March, 21st March, and 23rd March at 6.50 PM IST.

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