Lucknow, March 14
The South African women’s team’s top-order batters fired in unison and helped their team clinch the five-match series against India with a seven-wicket victory in the fourth ODI here on Sunday.
Chasing 267, Lizelle Lee (69), Laura Wolvaardt (53), Mignon du Preez (61) and Lara Goodall (59 not out) shone as the visitors completed the task in 48.4 overs for an unassailable 3-1 lead in the rubber.
A poor squad selection by new committee under Neetu David cost India dearly as the hosts paid the price for ignoring Shafali Verma’s flair in batting and Shikha Pandey’s experience in bowling.
The win meant seasoned Punam Raut’s third ODI hundred and veteran Harmanpreet Kaur’s scintillating 35-ball 54 went in vain.
South Africa were in the game when the opening duo of last match centurion Lizelle Lee and skipper Laura Wolvaardt were going great guns, putting on 116 runs in 23 overs.
Mixing caution with aggression, both kept the scorecard moving at a fairly rate until Harmanpreet Kaur effected a having the dangerous Lee trapped in front of the wicket for a 75-ball 69.
Joined by Lara Goodall, Wolvaardt could not stay long enough after Lee’s dismissal, getting out shortly after reaching her half century.
Goodall got a life when Sushma Verma missed a stumping and in the next delivery, the batter stepped out and played an inside-out shot for a boundary.
After that, Goodall hit off-spinner Deepti Sharma waist-high full toss outside off to the cover boundary.
Du Preez then smashed left-arm spinner Radha Yadav for three successive boundaries—two through the point region and one into the deep square leg fence—as the visitors brought the equation to 61 runs in the last 10 overs.
Du Preez had, in fact, set the ball rolling by hitting Poonam Yadav for a six and four in the 34th over, lifting her team from 148/4 to 162. They needed 97 in the last 15 overs.
Du Preez carried on in the same vein until she fell to Rajeshwari Gayakwad while trying to loft one over mid-on.
But Goodall stayed till the end to guide her team to victory.
Earlier, the 31-year-old Raut struck 10 boundaries in her unbeaten 104.
Harmanpreet smashed seven fours and a six, reaching her half-century in only 33 balls before falling to a slower ball. Soon after, Raut got to her century in 119 balls with a single.
Prior to that, Raut added 103 runs for the third wicket with skipper Mithali Raj (45 off 71 balls), who became the only player in women’s cricket to complete 7,000 ODI runs before getting out in the second powerplay.
Failing to make most of a chance she got in the previous over, Mithali drove one in the air for Shabnim Ismail to complete a good running catch.
The century partnership laid the foundation for a challenging total against a South African side that won both their matches in the five-match series while chasing.
After Mithali’s dismissal, Raut joined forces with the flamboyant Harmanpreet to add another 88 runs in quick time.
Harmanpreet was in her element straightaway, hitting two boundaries to kick-start her innings. In her inimitable style, the India T20 captain went about playing her strokes as the 200 came up in the 41st over.
What aided Harmanpreet’s free-flowing game was the presence of a well-settled Raut at the other end, who was content to keep the scoreboard ticking as her swashbuckling partner went after the South African bowlers.
Having played some fantastic shots during her stay in the middle, Raut, a veteran of 70 ODIs, got to the 90s when she deftly guided Ismail to the third-man boundary.
Amid the flurry of boundaries, medium pacer Marizanne Kapp produced an excellent 46th over and conceded just four runs. Anne Bosch continued the good work and gave away only five in the next over.
But Harmanpreet broke the shackles when she used her power to send off-spinner Nondumiso Shangase over deep midwicket for a maximum. PTI