The Indian women's team scripted history on Saturday when they beat South Africa women by 54 runs in the fifth and final T20I to register a double series win on the South African tour. The Harmanpreet Kaur-led side displayed an all-round performance as they outclassed the Dane van Niekerk-led team, bowling them out for 112 to lift the T20 series trophy by a margin of 3-1 in the five-match series. India, sent into bat, lost opener Smriti Mandhana cheaply for 13 as she tried to go for a six. However, veteran player Mithali Raj and youngster Jemimah Rodrigues steadied the Indian side with patient and skillful batting. The pair kept the scoreboard ticking with singles and doubles with an odd boundary every now and then.
The South African bowling unit was more than wayward as Mithali took full advantage of it and hit boundaries at will to score her 13th T20I fifty. During her innings, the right-handed batswoman hit eight fours and three sixes. However, in search of quick runs, she fell for 62.
The 17-year-old Rodrigues kept striking the ball cleanly, which allowed the visitors to attack from both the ends. Rodrigues, who was on her way to her maiden T20I fifty, departed shortly after Mithali's dismissal.
The Mumbai-batswoman tried to deposit a low Ayabonga Khaka full toss in the stands, miscued it and the bowler took a comfortable catch to send her packing.
New pair, Harmanpreet Kaur and Veda Krishnamurthy, provided the last flourish and helped India reach a competitive total of 166/4. While Harmanpreet scored 27 off 17 balls, including one four and two sixes, Krishnamurthy scored 8 off six balls.
In reply, South Africa were off to a slow start as Pooja Vastrakar bowled a maiden first-over to set the tone for the second innings. Following which the hosts could not maintain their momentum as the Indian bowling unit picked wickets at regular intervals to halt the flow of runs. For India, Shikha Pandey, Rumeli Dhar and Rajeshwari Gayakwad shared nine wickets among them.
Captain Dane van Niekerk was the first to depart for 10, courtesy Rumeli Dhar. The required run-rate for South Africa kept on rising as the Indian side cut down the boundaries with disciplined bowling and did not let the opposition score at will.
Wickets fell like a pack of cards as South Africa lost four wickets inside nine overs. The top four batswoman departed for 3, 10, 5 17 runs respectively.
The turning point of the match was in the ninth over when Shikha Pandey scalped two wickets in the same over to leave the hosts hanging by a thread as the visitors edged closer to victory.
Chloe Tryon was the lone warrior as she hit the only two sixes of the South African innings during her 25-run stay in the middle. With the pressure building, Tryon perished in search of quick runs.
With seven overs left in the innings the Indian captain brought herself into the bowling attack for just an over.
Apart from Chloe Tryon, Marizanne Kapp (27) kept on fighting and top scored for South Africa. During her innings Marizanne scored one four and two sixes.
Marizanne was dismissed by a brilliant catch by Rodrigues at the boundary ropes. She timed her jump and plucked the ball out of thin air, leaving the South African camp stunned.
The last four South African wickets fell for just 12 runs as the Indian bowling unit went through the lower batting order.
This victory is a boost for the Indian team as they had won a T20I series against Australia prior to this as well.