An all-round performance from Anne Bosch helped South Africa get their T20I series against India off to the perfect start with an eight-wicket victory.
India were asked to bat by Sune Luus, and the hosts were restricted to 130/6, with Shabnim Ismail returning a brilliant 3/14. The target of 131 caused South Africa little consternation as they chased it down in 19.1 overs, with Bosh 48-ball 66* to go with her 2/11 with the ball.
The victory meant South Africa led the three-match series 1-0.
India began their innings well enough, with Smriti Mandhana hitting back-to-back fours to take 11 runs off the first over. Unfortunately for India, she couldn't build on her start, becoming Ismail's first wicket soon after when mistiming one to mid-off.
Shefali Verma was joined by Harleen Deol thereafter, and the duo looked to set a foundation for India. Their partnership of 45 runs provided India that base, but they couldn't convert that start to something more as Verma (23) was stumped off Nonkululeko Mlaba after dancing down the track.
Thankfully for India, Jemimah Rodrigues returned to form after the change in formats, following a miserable time in the ODIs. Rodrigues and Harleen Deol reconstructed the Indian innings with a partnership of 60 runs. Deol brought up her maiden half-century in T20Is, and was the highest scorer for India, knocking 52 off 47 balls, a knock that included six fours.
In an attempt to go big in the death, India lost both Deol and Rodrigues (30) in the same over from Bosch. The Indian lower middle-order take it forward from there, with Richa Ghosh (5), Deepti Sharma (3), and Arundhati Reddy (0) all struggling to hit from the get go. The hosts could only add 14 runs off the final three overs, and ended up with a below-par total.
South Africa began their chase with a boundary off the very first ball from Lizelle Lee. The No.1-ranked women’s ODI batter failed to get going, though, as she was sent back for eight in the third over after a couple of dropped chances.
Captain Luus and Bosch then collaborated for a 90-run partnership. Luus made 43 runs in 49 deliveries before being dismissed caught-and-bowled by Deol.
But Bosch carried the bat and saw South Africa through to a fine victory. Bosch was named Player of the Match for her all-round efforts. India will hope to level the series when the teams clash in the second T20I on 21 March.
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