India women's cricket team was denied a famous series win as South Africa women won the the third Twenty20 International by five wickets at the New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg on Sunday. After losing the first two T20s, it was a do-or-die match for the hosts and Shabnim Ismail starred with the ball, taking five for 30 to help her team bowl out India for 133 following a stunning batting collapse. Sune Luus (41) top scored for the South Africans in the chase while the powerful Chloe Tyron (34) played yet another cameo to get the hosts over the line. India still lead the five-match series 2-1.
Put into bat, India had the worst possible, losing star player Mithali Raj in the very first over for a duck. Mithali had not been dismissed in the series going into the third match after notching up scores of 54 not out and 76 not out in the first two T20s, however, Marizanne Kapp got her on the fifth ball of the match.
Smriti Mandhana and captain Harmanpreet Kaur not only steadied the ship but also counterattacked brilliantly to lead India's fightback. But after a quickfire 37 off 24 balls, Mandhana fell victim to South Africa skipper Dane van Niekerk.
Harmanpreet took over the responsibility of scoring the runs and smashed six fours and two sixes en route to a masterful 48 off 30 balls. When Harmanpreet got out, India were 93 for three off 11.2 overs and on course of a good score.
However, things quickly went sour for India as the remaining batswoman fell like nine pins.
Jemimah Rodrigues (6) and Anuja Patil (7) fell without making much of a contribution, leaving India on shaky ground at 108 for five in 13.5 overs. Veda Krishnamurthy (24) smashed four boundaries to stop free fall but it was only brief respite for the visitors.
India lost their last five wickets for just nine runs in a stunning collapse to be bowled out for 133.
Pooja Vastrakar gave India some early hope by dismissing Lizelle Lee (5) in the third over. Dane van Niekerk (26) hit a few boundaries to give South Africa some momentum in the chase but she was sent packing by Rajeshwari Gayakwad with South Africa 34 for 2 in 5.5 overs.
India managed to stop the run flow but Sune Luus and Mignon du Preez batted cautiously to take the hosts closer to the target without losing anymore wickets. Despite making slow progress, South Africa chipped away at the target courtesy the 50-run stand for the third wicket between Luus and Du Preez.
Du Preez fell, trying to up the ante, in the 14th over with the score on 84/3. India had a sniff with South Africa needing 43 off the last five overs but Tyron dismissed any doubts of a South Africa victory by smashing 34 off 15 balls, including four boundaries and two sixes, to get the hosts to the finishing line.
Tyron fell in the 19th over but by that time the damage had been done and a South Africa win was a mere formality with the hosts needing three off nine balls.
The crucial fourth match will be played at the SuperSport Park in Centurion on February 21 and India will be hoping to wrap up the series win there.