Current Affairs

Indian Women beat South African women to clinch series

D N Verma

While Indian men’s cricket team was winning their second T20 match to achieve a historic series win against South African men, Indian women could not lag behind, though not much heralded.

However, they recorded a confident 3-1 win to clinch the T20 series by 54 runs. The veteran Mithali Raj and the much younger Jemimah were among the many Indian stars. Mithali won both the ‘Player of the match and of the series’ with a total of 192 runs.

The very interesting thing is when Mithali was playing at the national level and shining Jemimah was not yet born. She is just 17 and was playing in her second match.

The Indians had earlier beaten South African women in the One Day Internationals (ODI) They became the first women’s cricket team to win both the formats in South Africa. 

In beautiful Cape Town (where Indian men’s team Captain Virat Kohli and his actress wife Anushka Sharma celebrated a part of their honeymoon last month, and Kohli continued to wind up the long series), Indian women recorded a 'historic double' outclassing their South African opponents by 54 runs in the fifth and final Twenty20 International, Feb. 24, the day Indian men’s team also beat the South Africans by 7 runs in a thrilling match. 

In contrast, the Indian women had a comfortable win getting their opponents out for 112 runs. India had scored 166 runs when they batted. 

Indian women had beaten the South African women in ODI, 2-1, to bag the series. 

In the final T20 match the veteran Mithali Raj scored 62 off 50 balls and the young Jemimah Rodrigues made 44 off 34 balls to reach par score of 166 for four wickets in 20 overs.

South Africa were skittled out for 112 in 18 overs; old-timer Rumeli Dhar (3/26 in 4 overs) returning to the Indian side after six years made her splendid mark in the second match. Shikha Pandey took 3 wickets for 16 runs in her 4 overs and was the best bowler. Left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad also took 3 wickets in 3 overs giving 26 runs.

Times of India adds:  The win also showed that Indian women's performance in the ICC ODI World Cup wasn't a mere flash in pan and the women showed little rustiness even though they played their first series in seven months. The big positive was winning a T20 series - a format where the Indian women have not done well traditionally.

"It was a two-paced track to bat on but it became easier to play shots at the later stages. But it's always nice to be among runs," Raj, who scored 192 runs in four innings with three half-centuries, said after the match. She won both 'Player of the Match and Series' awards for her consistent scores.

Skipper Harmanpreet on her part spoke about how the series win will bolster their confidence as they get ready to take on Australia and England at home.

"I thought we were 20 runs short but our bowlers performed exceptionally. I thought Mithali di and Jemi (Jemimah) batted well. I thought Shikha and PY (Poonam Yadav) really bowled well," the skipper said.

Mithali started with a couple of boundaries off seamer Shabnim Ismail before launching onto medium pacer Masabata Klaas. She hit another couple of sixes - one off off-break bowler Raisibe Ntozakhe and other off rival captain Dane van Niekerk - both over long-on.

She first hit a boundary and then lofted her over long-off for the first six.

Along with 17 year old Jemimah, Mithali added 98 runs for the second wicket. 

The most talked about teenager in women's cricket circuit, Jemimah played her first innings of note at the international level and despite being pint-sized, and she packed a punch in her shots. She also punished Ntozakhe hitting her through cover for a boundary and also a six over mid-wicket. 

When Ismail came for her second spell, the teen sensation lofted her effortlessly over long-on for a six.

Interestingly, Mithali had made her one day international debut (June, 1999), 15 months before Jemimah was born in September 2000.

(Photo Courtesy: BCCI Women Twitter handle)