India sealed the T20I series win over South Africa with a five-wicket win at Surat. Oddly, this was the second time in two games they could have claimed to have won the honors with a sixth game in the series only confirmed after the seemingly decisive fourth fixture. With rain having ruined much of the early encounters, the decision was taken to play an extra game.
The unexpected reviving of the destination of the series didn’t kickstart the Proteas however, who subsided to 98/8 batting first. Six of their top seven made it into double figures, but Laura Wolvaardt’s 17 was the top score, a hallmark of a profligate team effort.
For the hosts, Radha Yadav was the star, claiming 3/23, while Deepti Sharma also chipped in with economical figures, leaking just 19 runs, and claiming two wickets in the final over of the innings.
The result seemed a foregone conclusion for a powerful Indian batting line-up, but South Africa ensured they had to sweat for the result. After stroking three boundaries on her way to 14, Shafali Verma was caught behind off Shabnim Ismail, and when Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues fell within three balls of each other either side of the end of the Powerplay, India were 29/3, and in a scrap.
Still, all it seemed likely to take was one partnership, and captain Harmanpreet Kaur found a willing ally in Deepti, the pair adding exactly 50 for the fourth wicket to soothe Indian fears. There was a hint of late drama when Ismail had Deepti caught and bowled for a 24-ball 16 with 20 runs still required, but Veda Krishnamurthy and Pooja Vastrakar stuck around long enough to see the hosts home.