Deepti Sharma shines as India beat South African in first T20I
After losing the toss, India were put in to bat and failed to get going on a slow track and were held to 130 for 8 in their 20 overs. Captain Harmanpreet Kaur was the top scorer for the side with 43 from 34 balls.
Though Smriti Mandhana began swiftly, scoring 21 off 16 balls with four fours, she was dismissed by Nondumiso Shangase. Harmanpreet and Deepti Sharma (16) featured in a 46-run partnership for the fourth wicket to bring India back on track. However, pacer Nadine de Klerk (2 for 10) dismissed both in a span of three deliveries to peg India back again.
India's slow bowlers, however, exploited the conditions even better to never allow the visitors to settle in and stop South Africa at 119. While Deepti finished with exceptional figures of 3 for 8, left-arm spinner Radha Yadav and leg-break bowler Poonam Yadav also claimed two wickets each. Among the pacers, Shikha Pandey impressed with 2 for 18.
For South Africa, Mignon du Preez took the fight to the Indian camp with a gritty 59 from 43 balls. However, the rest of the innings crumbled around her. At 73 for 7, though it seemed all over for South Africa, Du Preez featured in a 32-run partnership with Ayabonga Khaka to give the visitors some hope.
At 105 for 7, South Africa were in with an outside chance. However, Pandey provided India the much-needed relief by bowling Khaka for 5 in the 18th over while only conceding a single to tilt the scales firmly in the hosts’ favour.
South Africa needed 18 in the last over, but with Du Preez at the crease all was not lost. She began by hitting Yadav inside-out for six but was stumped off the fourth ball and India sealed victory as the last wicket fell the next ball.
The match saw 15-year-old Shafali Verma becoming India’s youngest T20 debutant. However, it was not a memorable start for Verma as she was dismissed for a duck, caught off Shabnim Ismail. The latter was a star performer for South Africa as she finished with 3 for 26.