Surat, Sep 24 (IANS) Off-spinner Deepti Sharma took three wickets and bowled the same number of maiden overs as India eves scripted a 11-run victory over South Africa in the first T20I of the five-match series at the Lalabhai Contractor Stadium here on Tuesday.
Chasing a modest 131 for victory, South Africa were buoyed by Mignon du Preez's gritty 43-ball 59 which kept them in the hunt. But Deepti's three maidens strangled the visitors as they were bowled out for 119 in 19.5 overs to hand India 1-0 lead in the series. Player of the match Deepti ended with career-best figures of 3/8 from 4 overs.
du Preez hit four fours and three sixes in her knock before being dismissed by medium-pacer Shikha Pandey in the fourth delivery of the final over with the Proteas still 11 runs short of India's total. In the next delivery, Shikha got rid of N. Mlaba (0) to seal India victory.
The day though belonged to Deepti, who first castled opener Tazmin Brits (3) and then had Nadine de Klerk caught behind by Taniya Bhatia in the same over. Shabnim Ismail, also caught behind, was Deepti's third victim. Besides Deepti, Shikha (2/18), Poonam Yadav (2/25) and Radha Yadav (2/29) helped sink the Proteas ship.
Put into bat by South Africa skipper Sune Luus, India could only manage 130/8, riding captain Harmanpreet Kaur's 34-ball 43, which was laced with three fours and two sixes.
Opener Smriti Mandhana scored 21, but the other batters did not have much joy as pacer Shabnim Ismail returned best figures of 3/26, supported by 19-year-old part-time medium pacer de Klerk, who took two wickets and gave away just 10 runs in two overs.
Shafali Verma, the 15-year-old attacking batswoman from Haryana, was handed a debut as she became the second-youngest player to represent India after Gargi Banerjee, and the youngest to play a T20I for the country.
But Ismail cut short her stay in the middle, as Shafali was dismissed for a fourth ball duck, caught by Tumi Sekhukhune at mid-on.
Fellow opener Mandhana looked good for her 16-ball 21 before Nondumiso Shangase had her caught by du Preez at point. Jemimah Rodrigues (19) and Deepti (16) chipped in with a few runs, but it was Harmanpreet who took the hosts to a fighting total as wickets kept tumbling at the other end.
Brief scores: India: 130/8 in 20 overs (Harmanpreet Kaur 43; Shabnim Ismail 3/26); South Africa: 119 all out in 19.5 overs (Mignon du Preez 59, Deepti Sharma 3/8)
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