South Africa 223 for 4 (Lee 132*, Goswami 2-20) beat India 248 for 5 (Raut 77, Ismail 2-46) by six runs (DLS method)
A career-best 132 not out from Lizelle Lee helped South Africa to a 2-1 lead in the five-match ODI series as they were six runs ahead of the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) par score, when an unseasonal shower ended the match in the 47th over of the visitors’ chase of 249. South Africa were on course, on 223 for 4, led by Lee’s third ODI century, and needed 26 from 21 when rain interrupted and just under half an hour the match was called off with South Africa winners as the DLS score to win then was 218.
Put in to bat, India scored 248 for 5, powered by a steady 77 from Punam Raut, with identical contributions of 36 from captain Mithali Raj – who brought up 10,000 runs in international cricket – Deepti Sharma and Harmanpreet Kaur.
After 36 overs, South Africa were cruising along at 178 for 2 after Lee had brought up a century off just 97 balls, and her partnership with Mignon du Preez was approaching three figures. In fact, du Preez had just skipped down the pitch to Jhulan Goswami, whose first two spells had given her figures of 6-2-9-1, and lofted her over long-on for the second six of the South Africa innings to kick off the batting powerplay.
Yet, the next four overs brought South Africa just four runs because du Preez (37) and Marizanne Kapp (0) perished inside a span of 10 balls without the visitors adding any runs, Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Goswami the successful bowlers, as the pressure grew on Lee, left in the company of a relatively inexperienced middle order.
With the sky darkening, and a light drizzle starting, Lee then slapped Poonam Yadav through midwicket for six, and picked up three further boundaries in the space of nine balls off Sharma and Kaur to keep South Africa ahead of the DLS par score as the umpires kept conferring about whether to continue or not. As the rain became heavier, South Africa walked off with the knowledge that Lee had placed them ahead of the DLS score.
Earlier, South Africa had quite the dramatic start to the day, with captain Sune Luus pulling up ill ahead of the toss, forcing 21-year-old Laura Wolvaardt to step into the captain’s shoes for the first time in her 83rd international game. Wolvaardt also had to cope with the loss of regular wicketkeeper Trisha Chetty, who was injured during warm-up and replaced by Sinalo Jafta.
South Africa had the perfect start, as on her way to a wicket maiden, Shabnim Ismail got the second ball of the match to swing away and draw an edge to Jafta from Jemimah Rodrigues, condemning her to a third straight single-digit score. India’s first runs came through a Smriti Mandhana tickle on the on side, but then Raut picked up three boundaries off Ismail – two of them glanced to fine leg – in her second over, which yielded 16 runs. This spurred Mandhana into action as well, who clubbed a couple of trademark cover drives, as India raced to 35 off the first six.
South Africa then changed tactics, particularly to Raut, and bowled outside off, with a cordon of fielders blocking off her cuts and dabs to third man. The rare error in line was punished, but after slapping Sekhukhule for boundaries over midwicket and through covers in her first over, Mandhana mistimed an intended pull over midwicket to deep square leg to fall for a breezy 25, leaving India at 64 for 2 after 12 overs.
Raj and Raut were watchful to begin with, as Wolvaardt shuffled her bowlers around, bringing Ismail and Kapp back for second spells too, but a couple of streaky boundaries through the slips allowed the Indians to keep their run rate in the region of five. Raut brought up her 15th ODI fifty in the 25th over, and from thereon, both Indian batters stepped on the accelerator. Raut was the aggressor in a short spell where India scored five boundaries in three overs, and also included Raj’s boundary off Bosch to move to 36 that made her the second batter after Charlotte Edwards to get to 10,000 international runs. She fell immediately after, mistiming a pull off Bosch to midwicket, enabling South Africa to break a 77-run partnership. South African spirits were perked up further when Kapp lured Raut into a false shot, top-edging to mid-off for 77 off 108.
Kaur was brisk in the powerplay, taking full toll of Bosch’s slingy medium pace to flick her through square leg and then clip her over short fine leg as India scored 30 off the five overs to leave themselves at 193 for 4, and within sight of an imposing total.
As Kaur looked to open up in the end overs, she top-edged Ismail on 36, only for Sekhukhune to complete a smart catch, peddling back from mid-off, meaning India could only pick up 55 off the last 10 overs.
The score looked adequate to begin with, India conceding just 15 off the first six overs, with Goswami in particular choking up Wolvaardt just outside off, inducing her to drive repeatedly to the well-guarded arc between mid-off and cover-point. Even in the early exchanges, Lee was quick to pounce on any scoring opportunities, racing to 40 off the first 42 balls she faced, even as Sharma bowled Wolvaardt through the gate by spinning one sharply from outside off by inducing her to drive.
Lara Goodall walked in at No. 3, fresh from a tenacious 49 in the previous match, but missed a fair few sweeps, a shot that led to her downfall in the second ODI. Her misery at the crease ended when she chipped Goswami to mid-on, having consumed 41 balls for her 16.
This brought together du Preez and Lee, who batted with great intent right from the start. Lee was severe on any error in length from the spinners, while du Preez worked the ball around the dial to keep the score ticking over. The enterprising partnership picked up 82 off 11 overs after the 25-over mark before the innings saw a mini-wobble but it didn’t cost South Africa the match.