Indian women vs SA women 3rd T20: Shafali Verma blast secures consolation win for hosts

India’s left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad on Tuesday (March 23) strangulated the South African batswomen with a miserly spell in which she captured three wickets for only nine runs in four overs to set up a big, consolation nine-wicket win in the third and final T20 International here on Tuesday. 

After the Rajeshwari show, openers Shafali Verma (60, 30 balls, 7x4s, 5x6s) and captain Smriti Mandhana 48 not out (28 balls, 9x4s) guided India to victory with nine overs to spare at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium here. 

The 17-year-old, who regained the number one spot in the ICC T20I batswomen rankings on Tuesday, was named player of the series after knocks of 23, 47 and 60. 

“I always practise (power-hitting) and work hard on my batting. Ever since I started holding a bat, I have loved to play attackingly. That’s how it works for me,” the big-hitting Shafali said after the match. 

Asked about regaining the number one spot in the ICC T20I rankings, she simply said, “I just try to do well and win matches for my team.” 

South Africa, however, won the three-match series 2-1. After Smriti won the toss and chose to bowl, she opened the bowling with pacer Arundhati Reddy and Rajeshwari. While Arundhati bagged just one wicket, Rajeshwari even bowled a maiden and finished with brilliant figures of 4-1-9-3. 

India captain Mandhana credited the third match win to team effort. “It was a good show overall. The bowlers did exceptionally well, and Shafali then just stole the show. This victory belongs to the bowlers,” Mandhana, who carried her bat with an unbeaten 48 off 28 balls, said. 

Asked if toss, which India won on Tuesday, was too important, she said, “Definitely not. We were pretty much in the game yesterday (second match) till the very end. 

“Yes, toss is important but can’t use that as an excuse. We lagged behind in the first two games, so I’m proud that we bounced back strong tonight. After losing the series, it needs a lot of motivation to play like we did tonight.”  

The top scorer for South Africa was their captain Sune Luus, who scored 28 off 25 (3x4s). In reply, Shafali and Smriti provided a solid start by scoring 96 runs for the opening wicket. 

After Shafali got out, Smriti and Harleen Deol (4 not out) saw India through. Perhaps, the South African women on Tuesday were not as motivated as they were in the first two matches, as they had already clinched the series by winning both games.

(with agency inputs)

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Sagar Biswas

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