A nail-biting finish in the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier final saw India defeat the Proteas women by one wicket on Tuesday.
The Proteas, who beat India in the warm-up match but came short in the all-important Super Six match, could not get the revenge they desired, losing to them on the final ball of their final qualifying match. With both teams already qualified for the World Cup, bragging rights was on offer.
After electing to bat first, SA scored 244 in 49.4 overs. A 51-run partnership gave them a good start to the match thanks to Lizelle Lee (37 off 31) and Laura Wolvaardt (21), but Shikha Pandey dismissed Lee on the final ball of the 10th over to break their momentum. Mignon du Preez tried her best to push her side forward, but wickets continued to fall with Woolvaardt, Trisha Chetty (22) and Chloe Tryon (23) all losing their wickets in the 20s.
With SA at 133-4, captain Dane van Niekerk joined Du Preez and the pair got their side moving again with 34 runs between them, but Van Niekerk (37) was dismissed for Pandey’s second in the 39th over. Du Preez (40 off 72) was next to fall in the following over to Ekta Bisht, as the SA innings started withering out. Sune Luus put in a final burst with 37 off 42, but a quick double by Rajeshwari Gayakwad, to remove Shabnim Ismail in the 47th and Ayabonga Khaka in the 48th, stalled their side. Luus was then run out with two overs remaining.
India got their innings off to a near-perfect start. Two half centuries by Mona Meshram (59) and Deepti Sharma (71) put their side in the driving seat after Marizanne Kapp took an early wicket to bring India to 20-1 after 7.3 overs. Meshram and Sharma picked up their side with a 124-run second-wicket partnership as SA struggled to find the breakthrough.
With India on 144-1, Marcia Letsoalo struck to dismiss Sharma in the 34th over and captain Dane van Niekerk dismissed Meshram in the following over to restrict India to 148-3. A 38-run partnership between Veda Krishnamurthy (31 off 27) and Harmanpreet Kaur(40 not out) continued their momentum until Kapp ended their partnership, picking up Krishnamurthy for her second scalp.
A good period of fast bowling and aggressive fielding changed the momentum of the game, after a run out by Lee off the bowling of Khaka. Yorkers by Khaka and then Ismail in the 44th and 45th over, to clean bowl Devika Vaidya and Sushma Verma for ducks, got SA into a strong position.
With 29 required off 30 balls, Khaka struck again to trap Bisht lbw in the 46th over. Kapp bowled an economical over, which included three dot balls, as India struggled to string runs together, as she put SA in a strong position with India needing 19 off 18 balls to win.
Kapp bowled another great over in the 49th, with four dot balls and only conceding three runs. With nine balls needed off the last over, Kaur hit a massive six off the second-last ball, eliminating all the hard work done by Kapp previously.
With two needed off the final delivery, the India captain took her side home by running two to take claim a one-wicket victory.
Proteas all-rounder Luus was named Player of the Tournament for her efforts with bat and ball, taking eight wickets at 18.75 and scoring 97 runs at 97.00.