An air of self-belief filled the press room as Suné Luus and Lizelle Lee addressed the media pack after South Africa stunned India to win the final T20i in Surat by 105 runs.
It was only the second time that the Proteas Women had beaten India in a T20i following their only other victory in Potchefstroom last year.
“Tonight showed that if we bat long, grind a bit in the middle, we can beat teams like India.” – Proteas Women skipper, Suné Luus
In fact, until last night, this had been a largely disappointing series for South Africa with a warm-up victory the only highlight to speak of.
When Luus won the toss and decided to back her batters to put a competitive score on the board, she had indicated a score of around 120 would make her happy.
Nobody expected what was to come as she and Lee combined for an explosive opening partnership of 144 as they took on India’s bowlers with devastating effect.
Their opening stand was the third highest partnership for South Africa in T20i cricket and set up a commanding total of 175/3.
Lee Overhauled Her Previous Best as She Top-Scored With 84 Runs
Player of the Match, Lee, struck 15 boundaries and one big six as she overhauled her previous best score of 73 in this format. She top-scored with 84 from 47 deliveries. In her stay at the crease, Luus made 62 from 56 balls including seven boundaries.
South Africa were clearly pumped up with an intense team huddle at the halfway mark and Luus told the media their intention was clear. They would leave everything out on the park, win or lose.
Her opening bowlers were right on the mark, rattling India early with the fiery Shabnim Ismail striking twice in two balls, first to get rid of the dangerous Shafali Verma for four and then trapping star batter Jemima Rodrigues for a first ball duck.
It got worse for India when Ayabonga Khaka sent the Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur packing as India slumped to 10/3.
If India thought things were bad, it got worse as golden arm Nadine de Klerk’s lethal double strike to dismiss the dangerous duo of Smriti Mandhana and Deepti Sharma put paid to any hope of victory for the home side as they found themselves in tatters at 13/5.
Playing in only her second T20i, Anneke Bosch bagged the wicket of Taniya Bhatia, who was excellently caught by Sune Luus to stun the crowd into silence as India crumbled to 13/6.
Krishnamurthy and Reddy Tried to Fight Back With a 49 Run Partnership
Veda Krishnamurthy and Arundhati Reddy stopped the madness with a fighting 49 run partnership but once she departed, a victim of Bosch, it was all over for India. De Klerk got Reddy as Luus pouched her third catch of innings.
Nondumiso Shangase struck twice in three balls to pick up the final two wickets of Anuja Patil and Poonam Yadav as India were bowled out for 70, their second lowest total in this format.
De Klerk finished with 3/23, Ismail was miserly in her four overs, bagging 2/11. Bosch and Shangase also picked up two wickets a piece, with Khaka taking 1/9.
South Africa’s fielding came together on the final game and the catching was vastly improved, and their effort was rewarded in the Proteas Women claiming the largest victory by runs over India by any team.
So, what went right?
Luus told the media that they finally played the brand of cricket they enjoy playing while Lee said they approached the game with a more positive mindset and intent.
Even the Indian coach, WV Raman, said he thought South Africa played with freedom, perhaps because they had nothing to lose.
The most telling statement came from Lee who said going into the upcoming ODI series losing 4-0 would have been bad.
So, the series ends 3-1 in favour of India, but South Africa will have a spring in their step as they head to Baroda today for a three-match ODI series, starting on 9 October.
Photo 1 Caption: Protea Women’s Lizelle Lee pulled off an impressive performance on the crease beating her previous best in a T20i as she top-scored with 84 from 47 deliveries at the Lalbhai Contractor Stadium in Surat, India on Friday, 4 October 2019. Photo: CSA
Photo 2 Caption: Lizelle Lee receiving her deserving Player of the Match award that saw the Protea Women side pull a match back in the series, however India won the T20i series 3-1. Photo: CSA
Photo 3 Caption: Winners of the T20i series, India, posing with the champions banner at the end of the final match at the Lalbhai Contractor Stadium on Friday, 4 October 2019. Photo: CSA