Dane van Niekerk’s late charge gave the Proteas Women a seven-wicket win in the final ODI against India, in Potchefstroom.
It was a tale of redemption after they had been beaten by 88 and 178 runs in the first two matches and, with this, secured two points towards qualification for the 2021 Women’s World Cup by chasing down 241 to win.
Van Niekerk introduced the urgency to get on top of the run rate when the Proteas had lost Laura Wolvaardt for 59 with the score on 169-3 after 39 overs, requiring 71 off 11 overs.
Underpinning the effort was Mignon du Preez’s measured 90 off 111 balls as they won with four balls to spare.
A flurry of wickets in the closing stages had severely curtailed India’s score. Shabnim Ismail took three in two overs, with the dismissal of opener Smriti Mandhana in the first over giving her an excellent return of 9-1-30-4.
But a stand of 83, shared by Deepti Sharma (79) and Veda Krishnamurthy (56 off 84) and an unbeaten 31 from just 16 balls from Shikha Pandey enabled the visitors to offer a run-rate of 4.8.
In reply, the Proteas limped to 86 at the halfway mark, with Wolvaardt on 23 off 47 and Du Preez 17 off 36, trying to mitigate the early loss of big-hitting Lizelle Lee (10) and Andrea Steyn (30). The run-rate had climbed from 4.80 to over six.
Wolvaardt had worked hard for her runs, with just 16 coming off boundaries.
Nevertheless, they needed someone to take on the run rate, and Van Niekerk was the one, hammering 41 off 30 balls.
It was the cherry on the top for Wolvaardt, who passed 1 000 runs in her 28th match, becoming the youngest woman in the world to reach that milestone. Sarah Taylor of England was 19 when she took that accolade in 2008, beating Mithali Raj, India’s skipper, who was 21 years and a week when she brought up the feat.
Wolvaardt became the youngest South African, man or woman, to score a century when she hit 105 against Ireland at the age of 17. Raj beat her to the world title though, being 16 when she passed three figures.