Mandhana and Harmanpreet Lead India to Victory Over South Africa in Thrilling 646-Run Encounter

Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana led India to a thrilling victory against South Africa in a historic series that featured four breathtaking hundreds and a record-breaking 646 runs.

India won the series with a thrilling last-ball victory. A first for women’s ODIs in four centuries. Sixty-four runs in total. Bengaluru supporters were treated to one of the most thrilling 50-over cricket matches they could have imagined, and the outcome also went their way: India defeated South Africa in the final over to win the series 2-0 with one match remaining.

Mandhana and Harmanpreet Lead India to Victory Over South Africa in Thrilling 646-Run Encounter
The return of Sune Luus by Smriti Mandhana has left the Indians in disbelief. BCCI

South Africa 321 for 6 (Wolvaardt 135*, Kapp 114, Vastrakar 2-54, Deepti 2-56) lost against India 325 for 3 (Mandhana 136, Harmanpreet 103*, Mlaba 2-51) by a margin of four runs.

After India had scored 325 for 3, it came down to Pooja Vastrakar’s final over, in which she had to defend 11 runs. Her next two deliveries brought her two wickets, with Laura Wolvaardt—one of the game’s four century-makers—stranded at the non-striker’s end. She had conceded five runs off the game’s opening two balls, both full tosses. Vastrakar’s slower delivery from the back of the hand beat Wolvaardt, who was finally on strike, making the equation five off the last delivery.

Earlier, after being ordered to bat first, Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur hammered 136 and 103 not out, respectively, to help India reach their third-highest ODI total. After South Africa was reduced to 67 for 3 in the chase, it appeared unachievable, but Wolvaardt and Marizanne Kapp’s 184-run combination turned the tide of the match.

Not too long ago, Sri Lanka pulled off the most successful ODI run-chase of 302 against South Africa. They barely missed shattering that mark on Wednesday, but they came very close.

Given South Africa’s first ball play, it was reasonable to assume that India would end up stopping at 230–240.

The field for the second ODI included noticeable cracks and a patch of grass, unlike the one used for the series opener. With a lot of movement, the new-ball duo of Ayabonga Khaka and Masabata Klaas put as much pressure as possible on Shafali Verma and Mandhana. Initially, it was challenging to get runs due to a slightly inconsistent bounce. In actuality, Mandhana struck after eighteen deliveries.

Shafali, on the other hand, had brief moments of patience during her 38-ball innings. Following a clean four off left-arm spinner Nonkululeko Mlaba, she attempted to go over the line with the following ball but was holed by Klaas at mid-on. India sank to 47 for 1 after 15 overs, hitting just five fours. They had encountered 72 dot balls throughout this time.

Mandhana stitched a solid 62 runs off 68 balls with No. 3 D Hemalatha. Hemalatha was bowled out for a mere 24 off 41 balls, and the runs didn’t start coming in until Harmanpreet was removed. By that point, the pitch had also begun to relax, and Harmanpreet and Mandhana produced an incredible partnership, scoring 171 runs off 136 balls.

Also Read: Smriti Mandhana’s 117 and Asha Sobhana’s 4 Wickets Haul Lead India to Victory Against South Africa

In addition to helping India overcome its slow start, their centuries also put South Africa in a difficult situation—though it was still in the game, as it turned out. Class was exuded by Mandhana, and Harmanpreet demonstrated the power and precise touch of one. Mandhana quickened her pace, reaching her sixth ODI hundred in 103 balls after scoring 31 off the first 48 balls, and she proceeded to add 36 more. She went about the crease, slashing it to deep point or pulling to the square-leg region as the bowlers changed up their lines.

In the process, Mandhana made history by being the first Indian player to achieve two century in a row in women’s ODIs. Unlike her deputy, Harmanpreet didn’t have to start slowly. As her innings went on, she became faster after sprinting to a run-a-ball 24. Harmanpreet scored most of his runs on the leg side, in contrast to Mandhana, who scored on both sides of the wicket. She scored 70 runs on that side, hitting two of her three sixes and four of her nine fours in the midwicket area.

Mandhana and Harmanpreet Lead India to Victory Over South Africa in Thrilling 646-Run Encounter
Good feeling, isn't it? During their major stands, Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur take a breather. BCCI

Meike de Ridder, who substituted for South Africa’s first-choice wicketkeeper Sinalo Jafta due to a mild concussion on the eve of the game, failed to stump Harmanpreet on the second delivery of the last over when he was on 88. For the first time in nearly two years, Harmanpreet was able to achieve her sixth ODI century. To reach three figures, she blasted four, six, and four.

As South Africa lost momentum, Wolvaardt even added legspinner-all-rounder Sune Luus to the attack, who had not bowled in ODIs for two years. They were unable to stop India, though, as they amassed 118 runs in the final ten overs.

In contrast, Richa Ghosh, batting at No. 5, hit an impressive 13-ball, undefeated 25, which included three fours and a six. Ghosh was crucial to the uninterrupted 54-run partnership with Harmanpreet. The veteran pros, Kapp and Wolvaardt, were focused and unwavering.

South Africa is in the second-to-last series in the 2022–25 Women’s Championship cycle. They need to win a few of their six games (they play England at home next) to guarantee their spot in the 2025 World Cup in India. They needed points here because they had already lost the first game.

With three wickets lost for 67 runs in the first fifteen overs, South Africa’s innings did not start well. But unlike on Sunday, when the Indian spinners struggled to turn and grip under the lights, the pitch worked in the batsmen’ favor throughout the chase. Wolvaardt and Kapp were able to adjust and perform well in the final fifteen overs or so thanks to that.

They started off by putting away the loose deliveries and taking singles off of nice ones, keeping the scoreboard ticking over. Both of the set batters converted their starts and reached half-centuries thanks to their clarity and patience.

Playing as a pure hitter with her workload controlled after suffering a back ailment, Kapp was able to perform well under duress, smashing 11 fours and three sixes in her 114 off 94 balls. Wolvaardt took measured chances and played a well-paced innings to stay to the end, becoming the first batter from South Africa to score 4,000 runs in women’s ODIs on the evening. Twelve fours and three sixes made up her knock.

And the two quickened their pace, needing 148 runs from the final 15 overs. After Vastrakar’s outstanding catch at long-off eliminated Kapp in the 43rd over, Wolvaardt did not let up, striking the ball with ease.

Another thing that brought South Africa closer was Nadine de Klerk’s cameo of 28. Until they ultimately came up just short.

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