All-rounder Anneke Bosch first pegged the India back with a couple of wickets and then smashed an unbeaten 66 off 48 balls to ensure an easy eight wicket victory for South Africa in the first T20 International in Lucknow on Saturday.
The visitors have been chasing like a dream so far on their tour of India and the T20I series opener was no different.
Harleen Deol’s (52) confident first international fifty was a silver lining for an otherwise lacklustre display by the Indians who posted a below par 130/6 after being invited to bat. The South Africans chased down the target easily with five balls to spare with opener Bosch (66 not out) and captain Sune Luus (43 off 49 balls) sharing 90 runs for the second wicket. SA reached 133/2 in 19.1 overs.
Considering they were missing Harmanpreet Kaur, India were placed at 104/2 at the end of 15 overs. It was a solid platform. India scored just 26 runs from the last five overs and that’s where they again lost the match. The lack of power-hitters lower down the order proved to be an area of concern.
The Indian bowlers never put any sort of pressure on the Bosch-Luus duo for a long stretch in the match. Bosch hit nine fours and a six in her 48-ball unbeaten innings after she took 2/11 during Indian innings.
Poor fielding also cost India dear as they conceded extra runs on the field where South Africa saved more than a few. Captain Smriti Mandhana pointed that out as an area of real concern.
India got rid of dangerous South African opener Lizelle Lee (8) who had topped the batting charts in the preceding ODI series with pacer Arundhati Reddy (1/20) removing her in the third over as she miscued her shot.
But Bosch and Luus denied the Indians any further success till the 16th over with a solid and flawless batting dsiplay.
Lee’s early dismissal put the South Africans on the backfoot but Luus and Bosch negated the early Indian advantage. Luss hit Reddy for a six and a four in consecutive deliveries in the fifth over as South Africa got to 36 for 1 from powerplay overs.
The duo gained in confidence gradually as the Indian bowlers could not find a way to break the partnership. South Africa needed 68 from the last 10 overs and they kept up the tempo without taking too many risks, needing 33 from the last five overs.
Rajeshwari Gayakwad dropped Luus, failing to hold on an easy catch in the 16th over but the next ball, the South Africa captain was dismissed by Deol (1/21).
But by the time Luus was out, the match had already tilted in South Africa’s favour. SA needed 14 from the final two overs but the equation was down to two from the final over and Bosch hit a four to win the match in style.
Earlier, Harleen Deol top-scored with a confident 52 in India’s 130/6.
The 22-year-old Deol hit six fours in her 47-ball innings to score the bulk of India’s runs after being invited to bat. She shared 60 runs for the third wicket with Jemimah Rodrigues (30) to help India recover from 11 for one after the fall of stand-in-captain Smriti Mandhana (11) in the second over.
Back in international cricket after her breakthrough World Cup outing last year, Shafali Verma, who was not in the squad for the preceding ODI series which India lost 1-4, made 23 from 22 balls with the help of two fours ad a six.
Mandhana, who was leading the side after Harmanpreet Kaur suffered a hip injury, hit two fours in the first over off Mlaba but perished in the second over, offering a catch to Bosch at mid off. There might be an injury concern for the stand-in skipper on Sunday as well after she twisted the ankle while fielding.
India were 41/1 after powerplay and reached to 59/2 at the halfway mark.
Shafali, who was off the mark with a six in the second ball she faced, could not resist coming down the track but missed the ball completely to get stumped-out in the 10th over.
India took 13 runs from Sune Luus in 11th over with Deol hitting two fours. Deol reached her maiden fifty off 44 balls.
But just as India looked to accelerate the innings, set batters Deol and Rodrigues fell in the space of three balls in the 18th over and that put paid to India’s hopes of posting a bigger total.
You can watch the match highlights here.
(With PTI inputs)
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