The Indian team posted a fighting score of 158/4 on the board after being asked to bat first. However, the visiting South Africans chased down the target on the last delivery of the match to clinch the series with a game to spare.
Smriti Mandhana replied in the affirmative when asked in the post-match press conference if the loss was a bitter pill to swallow. The stand-in skipper highlighted that the Indian team needs to do better in the fielding department to win such encounters.
"Yes, quite a bitter pill because I think 80% of the time it was our game but towards the end we couldn't pull it off. A lot of things to learn from the game. The way we fielded, I don't think we deserved to win this game. We will keep working on our fielding and probably go up in fielding standards," said Mandhana.
While there were a lot of misfields from the Indian team, three crucial catches dropped changed the course of the game.
While Lizelle Lee was dropped twice by Richa Ghosh, although the second chance was a difficult one, Laura Wolvaardt took South Africa home after Rajeshwari Gayakwad put down a sitter off her own bowling.
The youngsters' batting was amazing to watch: Smriti Mandhana
"The way our batters batted it was amazing to watch. Especially all the youngsters, Shafali, Richa, then Harleen in between. The way they built up the partnership and got us till 150-plus score, I think it was a good total to defend. But definitely we would have done better in the second half of the match. A lot of positives but a lot of things to work on," said Mandhana.
The graceful southpaw refused to blame the long layoff the Indian team had after the T20 World Cup final for the defeat. She signed off by hoping they would get a positive result soon and carry on the momentum from there.
"Definitely I think we cannot keep using that as an excuse. We have to pull up our socks. As I said we need to get better, definitely we are practising hard towards that. Hopefully there will be one odd match where we will get it right and then everything right will start happening," concluded Smriti Mandhana.
This was the Indian team's first T20I series defeat against the Proteas women. They will hope to win the last game of the series, to be played on March 23, to avoid a whitewash.