The visitors only managed 112, with India cruising home with nine overs to spare
India Women 114 for 1 (Verma 60, Mandhana 48*) beat South Africa Women 112 for 7 (Luus 28, Gayakwad 3-9) by nine wickets
India arrived a little too late on this tour but announced themselves with a display of complete control to claim a consolation win in the T20 series.
The final match was a non-contest before it even really began with South Africa reduced to 17 for 3 after seven overs, 40 for 4 after 11 overs and 68 for 5 after 15 overs. They managed to drag themselves to a triple-figure total but it was never going to be enough.
At a venue where the chasing team has won every match on this tour, India eased their way to the target in 11 overs. Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana shared an opening stand of 96, with Verma contributing 60 of those runs from just 30 balls, including her third T20 half-century. Mandhana was the perfect foil, acted as the accumulator to Verma’s aggressive approach and was there at the end to take India to victory in a flurry of boundaries. In total, India hit 16 fours and five sixes, several of successive deliveries. Mandhana finished the match with three fours off Nadine de Klerk, who, along with Shabnim Ismail, conceded at more than 10 runs an over.
Shafali v Shabnim
If Shafali Verma was taught to respect her elders, she definitely doesn’t show it on the cricket field. Shabnim Ismail is almost double her age but Verma wasn’t thinking about that when she slammed her opening over for 18 runs to get India’s chase underway in the most assertive way possible. Verma helped the first ball off her hips to the fine leg fence, walked outside her leg stump to make room to launch the second over long-on for six, cut the fourth ball for four and slashed at the last ball, a short one, to send over the wicket-keeper’s head. Verma batted Ismail out of the attack temporarily but treated the rest of the attack with similar disdain. She hit Tumi Sekhukhune between midwicket and long-on for six and Nadine de Klerk for two sixes down the ground. By the time Ismail came back on, Smiriti Mandhana was in the mood and drilled South Africa’s best bowler for three fours, punishing the full ball, the back-of-a-length delivery and the short ball in equal measure.
Deepti drops and then dives
India’s fielding has been forgettable through much of the series and the first few overs seemed to be headed the same way. Deepti Sharma was at midwicket when Lizelle Lee inside-edged an Arundhati Reddy ball that she hoped to hit through the on-side and should have taken an easy catch. Instead, the ball popped out of her hands and, knowing the form Lee is in, would have been concerned about the impact of her miss. Lee only lasted into the next over before being bowled by a Rajeshwari Gayakwad arm-ball to leave South Africa 16 for 2 after the Powerplay. And then came Deepti’s shot at redemption. Laura Wolvaardt pushed at a Radha Yadav delivery that turned away from her and looped up to extra cover. Deepti had to scramble forward and drive full stretch to take the catches inches off the turf and did to show that India can still hold on to some chances.
Gayakwad’s series gains
Rajeshwari Gayakwad has flown under the radar in this series but has been India’s best bowler throughout. She was the joint-leading wicket-taker in the ODIs, alongside Jhulan Goswami, with eight wickets, and in the T20s, level with Shabnim Ismail‘s four. Gayakwad picked up three of her four wickets in this match, for a career-best haul of 3 for 9. She bowled Anneke Bosch in her first over after Bosch swiped across the line and missed and could have had Faye Tunnicliffe in the next over when the ball turned past her attempted slog, and in the over after that, she beat the outside edge. Instead, Gayakwad also bowled Lee with a quicker delivery that she played too early and then returned for a second spell that saw the end of Nadine de Klerk, also playing across the line to an arm ball and missing. Gayakwad left South Africa at 68 for 5 at the end of 15 overs,
First sight of Sinalo Jafta
Perhaps the only reason South Africa did not end up with a double-figure score was Sinalo Jafta, who was required to bat for the first time on this tour. She ran the second ball she faced fine past short third and then laced the next ball through short fine for back-to-back boundaries in South Africa’s best over. Jafta got off strike after her twin fours and let it to Lara Goodall to loft Simran Bahadur over short fine for a third four. South Africa scored 16 runs off that over, and 39 off the last four overs to ensure they got into triple-figure territory albeit well below-par.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent