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India edge out South Africa in low-scoring thriller

Ind W v SA W, 3rd ODI, report

A tight bowling display saw India to victory to claim a 3-0 whitewash in their ODI series with South Africa.

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Disciplined performances from Ekta Bisht (3/32), Deepti Sharma (2/24), and Rajeshwari Gayakwad (2/22) saw India come out on top by just six runs.

Having chose to bat first, India captain Mithali Raj would not have expected to be in the middle after just two overs. But Shabnim Ismail (2/18) and Marizanne Kapp (3/20) both struck in their first overs to leave India reeling at 5/2. Raj and Punam Raut came together and negotiated the first Powerplay without further damage. Soon after though, first-change bowler Ayabonga Khaka bowled Raut for 15.

South Africa skipper Sune Luus was eager not to let India's batters settle and used her bowlers in short bursts. Kapp returned for her third spell in just the 17th over, and had Luus's opposite number Raj caught for a 46-ball 11, the score reading 39/4. India fell further into the mire as Sharma (7) and Tanyia Bhatia (6) were both sent packing before they could construct a sizeable partnership.

Through this carnage, however, Harmanpreet Kaur remained, and she began to rebuild the innings with help from Shikha Pandey. When Kaur (38) was bowled by Kapp 27 overs after she had arrived at the crease, she and Pandey had taken the score to 120/7 having shared a 49-run partnership, the biggest of the match. Pandey (35) followed Kaur to the dressing room soon after, leaving the tail to eek out a few more valuable runs before being bowled out for 146.

Wickets fell regularly for South Africa, none of the first five partnerships managing to reach 20 and so leaving them a long way behind the game at 63/5. But some resistance came courtesy of captain Luus (24) and all-rounder Kapp (29) as they shared a 40-run partnership for the sixth wicket. More small but vital partnerships left them needing just 10 runs when the eighth wicket fell. With all three of her star bowlers bowled out, Raj had difficult choices to make. Kaur was an obvious option, and she took the ninth wicket to take India back to level-footing. Eight runs needed, one wicket left.

Openers Pandey and Joshi still had overs left, but both had been relatively expensive. So instead she turned to Jemimah Rodrigues. Bowling just her second over in her 13-match ODI career. And it worked. Her sixth ball was hit in the air by Tumi Sekhukhune, and Deepti Sharma completed the catch to seal a six-run victory.

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