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Vastrakar's 4 for 13 helps India to series-levelling victory

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Published in Cricket
Tuesday, 09 July 2024 09:40

India 85 for 0 (Mandhana 54*, Shafali 27*) beat South Africa 84 (Brits 20, Vastrakar 4-13) by 10 wickets

The highs of two compelling batting performances in the T20Is gave way to a timid end during a tough all-format tour for South Africa in Chennai on Tuesday.

On the same surface where they made 189 and 177, the visitors folded for 84 to all but concede the game at the halfway mark. India's chase was a mere formality, with Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma building on Pooja Vastrakar's great work - she picked up a career-best 4 for 13 - to complete a series-leveling win in just 10.5 overs.

South Africa stumble in powerplay

Laura Wolvaardt and Marizanne Kapp were out early, trying to manufacture strokes in the powerplay after India elected to field. But Tazmin Brits, fresh off back-to-back fifties, appeared to have set herself in, picking up pace in the sixth over when she struck Shreyanka Patil for two boundaries. But in trying to push the pedal, she holed out to a brilliant catch by Harmapreet Kaur at mid-off to give Deepti Sharma a wicket. South Africa were 45 for 3 in 7.4 overs.

Vastrakar, Radha make a splash

Two balls after Brits fell, Deepti could've had a second wicket if she had held on to a return chance offered by Chloe Tryon. In the following over, the ninth of the innings, Tryon survived a close lbw shout off Arundhati Reddy as she played all around a full-blooded inswinger, only to be saved by the angle. Reddy would eventually win the head-to-head a few overs later with a hard-length delivery that Tryon skewed to point.

Between the lbw reprieve and Tryon's wicket, Vastrakar left her imprint on the game with a game-changing over as South Africa went from 57 for 3 in 10 overs to 61 for 5 in 11. She trapped Anneke Bosch lbw with a length ball that zipped in to trap in her front as she shuffled across. It was a sweet comeback after being threaded behind point for a boundary off the previous delivery. Two balls later, Vastrakar had Nadine de Klerk chop on with a fuller-length delivery.

In all, South Africa lost 7 for 23 to fold for 84 in the 18th over. The end was hastened by Radha Yadav's double-wicket maiden in the 17th over; she finished with 3 for 6 off her three overs.

Mandhana, Shafali finish it off

At no stage during India's innings was there even a semblance of pressure on the openers. For this, much credit should go to Mandhana, who carried on her sparkling form in what was some of the most aesthetically pleasing hit-through-the-line batting.

She began by taking Ayabonga Khaka for two fours in the very first over to lay down a marker, before a slice of luck came her way when she was beaten by a superb delivery from Kapp that hit the seam and nipped away to beat the outside edge.

That was perhaps the only moment of uncertainty in a knock where Mandhana stamped her authority over both pace and spin. She hit eight fours and two sixes, including one that brought up her fifty and India's victory off the same delivery.

At the other end, Shafali showed shades of her dominating best by mercilessly pulling the seamers in front of square, playing her trademark slaps and shovels with no pressure to contend with. It couldn't have been any easier.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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