India women 248 for 5 (Raj 66, Raut 65, Khaka 3-69) beat South Africa women 247 for 6 (Wolvaardt 69, Pandey 2-38) by five wickets
Set up by half-centuries from Mithali Raj and Punam Raut, India hunted down a steep target of 248 with five wickets and two overs to spare and took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series against South Africa.
In a reprise of her match-winning knock in the 2017 Women’s World Cup Qualifier final, also against South Africa, that secured India the title off the final ball, Harmanpreet Kaur‘s unbeaten 39 helped seal the team’s highest successful chase in ODIs.
Harmanpreet walked in at a vital juncture in play, with both set batsmen, Raj and Raut, having fallen in the space of four deliveries to leave India at 196 for 4 and needing 52 off 59. Harmanpreet, who had neither batted nor bowled in the first ODI after finishing as India’s highest run-getter in the preceding T20I series, had Deepti Sharma for company in the final leg of the chase on a pitch that eased up as the day progressed.
A 12-run 43rd over decisively titled the chances in India’s favour. Shabnim Ismail, who had until then conceded 26 off her seven overs, was carted by Harmanpreet towards the midwicket boundary for the first four in a sequence of three. The next two – off the final two deliveries – involved some luck, as they were both thick outside-edges, which flew past the wicketkeeper to the third-man boundary.
Ayabonga Khaka bowled Deepti for an eight-ball 2 the next ball, but Harmanpreet’s experience shone through as she chipped away at the target, hammering the first six of the match off Khaka in the 46th over and two more fours in the 48th over against the same bowler. In wicketkeeper Taniya Bhatia’s company, Harmanpreet closed out the chase with an uppish drive towards cover, where Marizanne Kapp dropped the chance and also appeared to injure herself.
Earlier, the chase had been set up by Raj and Raut, who lifted India from 66 for 2 to 195 for 3. Their 129-run stand ended with Raj, who struck eight fours in her 82-ball 66, edging a drive off a wide delivery to Laura Wolvaardt at the cover boundary. Raut gave away her wicket next over, scooping Khaka straight to Kapp at short fine-leg, but not before she had accumulated a gritty 92-ball 65, including seven fours, for her 13th ODI half-century.
“I wanted to finish the match,” Raut, the Player of the Match, said at the post-match presentation. “Maybe the shot was unnecessary. But we needed runs at that point and I was beginning to cramp a little. I have always loved batting with Mithali since my debut, whether in domestic games or international fixtures. There’s so much to learn from her. I would love to finish games like her.”
India’s day, however, had not begun on a promising note despite winning the toss. An opening stand of 76 between Lizelle Lee and half-centurion Wolvaardt was followed by a 51-run second-wicket partnership between Wolvaardt and Trisha Chetty, after Harmanpreet took an excellent low, front-diving catch to send back Lee off wristspinner Poonam Yadav. Wolvaardt, the 20-year-old, struck seven fours in her patient 98-ball 69, her 15th ODI fifty, but she found Jemimah Rodrigues at deep-square-leg off Shikha Pandey only four overs after the medium-pacer had Chetty sky one to Jhulan Goswami at mid-on.
Mignon du Preez and Lara Goodall made 44 and 38 respectively, adding 59 together for the fourth wicket. Sune Luus, the captain, meanwhile, and Kapp, the visitors’ top-scorer from the first ODI, chipped in with 12 and 11 each to take South Africa to 247 for 6, which eventually didn’t prove enough to avert a second series loss on this tour.