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India Women Secure Commanding Victory Over South Africa in Third T20I Series Levelled

The India Women’s Cricket Team delivered a dominant performance as they clashed with South Africa Women in the third and final T20I of a gripping three-match series at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Tuesday, July 9. With skies ominously threatening rain, which had already impacted the second T20I, the Women in Blue were determined to put on a stellar show and salvage their pride in the series. Trailing 0-1 after a narrow defeat in the first T20I and with rain having thwarted their ambitions in the second, it was a crucial game for Harmanpreet Kaur and her team.

The anticipation leading up to the match was palpable. India’s campaign in the series didn’t start on the most favorable note, with a 12-run defeat in the opener. The team’s spirits were dampened further when the second game, also scheduled in Chennai, was washed out due to relentless rain. As the teams returned to the field for the third T20I, the weather forecast loomed large over their heads. India was desperate not just for a win but a comprehensive one to ensure they went into the Women’s Asia Cup—starting from July 19—with confidence and momentum.

The day began with South Africa winning the toss and opting to bat first. The pitch, known for its turning tracks and slow nature, held a key challenge for both sides. The Proteas started on a cautious note, being well aware of the Indian spin threat. Their openers managed to forge a steady but slow start, carefully negotiating India’s disciplined bowling attack. However, things took a swift turn when spinner Poonam Yadav was introduced into the attack. Yadav’s craft with the ball proved to be too formidable for the South African batters.

Poonam Yadav, combining sharp turn with flight, weaved a web around the South African lineup. Her impressive spell included crucial breakthroughs, as she dismissed key batters and halted any momentum that South Africa tried to build. She was meticulously supported at the other end by Deepti Sharma, who maintained tight lines and didn’t allow the batters any room to score freely. Eventually, South Africa could only muster a modest total of 98 for the loss of 9 wickets at the end of their 20 overs. Yadav wrapped up with sterling figures of 4-18, while Deepti Sharma contributed efficiently with figures of 2-16.

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Chasing a target of 99, India needed a solid start, and the openers didn’t disappoint. Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana walked out with a sense of determination. The Proteas bowlers, though hopeful of early breakthroughs, faced an onslaught from the young and dynamic Verma. Smriti Mandhana, playing the perfect foil to the aggressive Verma, ensured the scoreboard kept ticking with her elegant strokes.

Shafali Verma particularly stood out with her aggressive approach, taking on the bowlers from the outset. Her scintillating innings included multiple boundaries that exemplified power and precision, quickly putting the doubts of pressure to rest. It wasn’t long before Mandhana also joined the party, showcasing her class with exquisite cover drives and authoritative pull shots. The pair stitched together an unbeaten partnership, displaying camaraderie and running between the wickets that reflected a well-coordinated effort.

In a sweeping effort that can only be described as clinical, the Indian openers completed the chase in just 11.2 overs, sealing the victory by 10 wickets. Shafali Verma remained not out on a masterful 59 off 38 balls, while Mandhana complemented her brilliantly with an undefeated 32 off 30 balls. The triumph was not just a win but a statement from the Indian women’s team as they levelled the series 1-1.

The commanding win provided a much-needed morale boost for India ahead of the upcoming Women’s Asia Cup. This result underlines the potential and skill present in the team, as they now turn their focus towards preparing for more competitive cricket. The Indian camp would be pleased with this commanding performance, especially the form shown by their bowlers and openers. The victory also reassured fans of the team’s ability to bounce back in pressure situations, setting a positive tone for the challenges ahead.

With the series finishing all square, the stage is now set for more enthralling contests between these two competitive sides in future tournaments. For now, the Indian women’s team can celebrate a deserved and emphatic series-levelling victory.