India women succumbed to their first defeat of the Quadrangular series on Wednesday as South Africa held their nerve at the death to escape to a narrow eight-run win at Potchefstroom.

Despite chasing South Africa’s formidable total of 269/5, the Indians were well on course to create history once again – they had never scored more than 245 runs while chasing, but pressure got the better of their middle-order, which had remained untested throughout the tournament. Before this game, India had recorded 16 consecutive wins in One-day Internationals.

Deepti Sharma (71) and Punam Raut (35) carried on from where they left against Ireland, and put up 83 runs for the first wicket. However, a needless run-out ended their partnership, which came at a fair clip. Skipper Mithali Raj’s (54) fluent strokeplay helped India continue to get boundaries at regular intervals. At the half-way stage during the chase, it was India who were cruising. However, the chase came to a screeching halt when Sharma and Raj departed. Seasoned campaigners such as Harmanpreet Kaur and Veda Krishnamurthy also failed to make an impact and there was considerable pressure on the lower-order.

Despite Shikha Pandey’s (36*) waging a lone battle in the final overs, Shabnim Ismail’s (3/54) late burst helped the hosts edge out their opponents in the final over of the contest.

Earlier, despite a wicket from the first ball of the match, the Indian bowlers were taken to the cleaners by the South African middle-order. Rookie Andrie Steyn (83) and the experienced Trisha Chetty (76) built a solid 151-run stand for the second wicket to take the game away from their opponents.

The opposition has had no answer to India’s spin threat throughout the tournament, but they had a rare off day despite Ekta Bisht (2/47) accounting for a couple of scalps. South Africa skipper Chloe Tryon’s (77* from 39) blitzkrieg towards the end took her side to a competitive score. Tryon toyed with Jhulan Goswami and Harmanpreet Kaur and helped the South Africans plunder 100 runs from the last 10 overs. In the end the knock was what helped the hosts clinch victory.

Brief scores

  • South Africa 269/5 in 50 Overs (Andrie Steyn 83, Chloe Tryon 77*, Trisha Chetty 76; Ekta Bisht 2/47) beat India 261/9 in 50 Overs (Deepti Sharma 77, Mithali Raj 54, Shikha Pandey 36*; Shabnim Ismail 3/54, Masabata Klaas 2/50) by 8 runs