2Nd ODI: Mandhana, Kaur Top Wolvaardt, Kapp Centuries As India Clinch Narrow 4-Run Victory (Ld)

(MENAFN- IANS) Bengaluru, June 20 (IANS) India clinched a last-ball victory over South Africa Women, securing the series 2-0 with a match to spare in the second ODI by 4 runs at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. The match was marked by a record four centuries and a massive total of 646 runs.

India, opting to bat first on a strip with visible cracks and a patch of grass, faced a challenging start. The new-ball duo of Ayabonga Khaka and Masabata Klaas utilised the conditions expertly, restricting India's openers, Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana, to a slow start. Shafali showed promise but fell for a 38-ball 18, leaving India at a tentative 47 for 1 after 15 overs.

It was Smriti Mandhana's resilience and class that turned the tide. Partnering with D. Hemalatha, who contributed a steady 24, Mandhana gradually found her rhythm. The turning point came with the arrival of Harmanpreet Kaur, whose aggressive yet calculated approach provided the perfect counterbalance to Mandhana's grace. Together, they forged a formidable 171-run partnership off just 136 balls, lifting India to a commanding total.

Mandhana's journey to her seventh ODI century (136 off 120 deliveries) was a masterclass in adaptability. Initially scoring at a run rate reminiscent of Test cricket, she accelerated brilliantly, moving from 31 off 48 balls to her hundred in 103 balls. Her stroke-play, especially her movement around the crease and her precise targeting of gaps, left the South African bowlers in disarray. Mandhana's milestone was significant as she became the first Indian woman to score back-to-back centuries in ODIs.

Harmanpreet, on the other hand, displayed raw power and impeccable timing, predominantly scoring on the leg side. Her knock was peppered with powerful shots, including nine fours and three sixes, culminating in a spectacular century in 88 deliveries-her first in nearly two years. An untimely miss-stumping by stand-in wicketkeeper Meike de Ridder allowed Harmanpreet to reach her milestone, adding valuable runs in the final over alongside Richa Ghosh, who contributed a quickfire 25 off 13 balls. India's innings concluded at an imposing 325 for 3.

South Africa's chase began on a shaky note, losing three wickets for 67 runs. However, Laura Wolvaardt and Marizanne Kapp's resilient 184-run stand brought them back into contention. Wolvaardt, showcasing her exquisite technique, kept South Africa's hopes alive, but it was Kapp's dismissal that turned the match into a nail-biting finish.

Wolvaardt smashed 135 in as many deliveries and Kaap scored a brilliant 114 off 94 deliveries.

With 11 runs required off the final over, Pooja Vastrakar was entrusted with the ball. Despite conceding five runs off the first two deliveries, she made a stunning comeback, taking two crucial wickets in the next two balls. With five needed off the final delivery, Wolvaardt, who had been left stranded at the non-striker's end, finally faced the last ball but was undone by Vastrakar's clever slower delivery as India won the match by 4 runs.

Brief scores:

India Women 325/3 in 50 overs (Smriti Mandhana 135, Harmanpreet Kaur 103 not out; Nonkululeko Mlaba 2-51, Masabata Klaas 1-67) beat South Africa Women 321/6 in 50 overs (Laura Wolvaardt 135 not out, Marizanne Kapp 114; Pooja Vastrakar 2-54, Deepti Sharma 2-56) by four runs.



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