South African opener Lizelle Lee single-handedly destroyed India’s chances with a career-best unbeaten 132 as the home team lost by six runs via the Duckworth-Lewis (DLS) method in the rain-marred third women’s ODI of the five-match series on Friday. Chasing a competitive 249, Lee starred for the visitors with her breathtaking knock that came off 131 balls and had 16 fours and two hits over the fence. South Africa now lead the series 2-1.
Lee kept South Africa abreast with the required rate, which eventually proved crucial after rain played spoilsport with the visitors at 223 for four in 46.3 overs, six ahead of India via the DLS method.
Earlier, Punam Raut struck a second successive half-century — 77 off 108 balls — to power India to a fighting score. Also, India skipper Mithali Raj (36) became the first Indian woman to score 10,000 international runs during a 77-run third wicket stand with Raut.
South Africa were off to a decent start in their chase with the pair of Lee and stand-in skipper Laura Wolvaardt (12) adding 41 runs for the opening wicket.
After Wolvaardt was cleaned up by off-spinner Depti Sharma, Lara Goodall (16) and Lee took the innings forward with a 40-run stand for the second wicket.
Mignon du Preez (37) too made a significant contribution as Lee kept South Africa’s chase alive by scoring only the third century of her career.
Lee’s century, the first of the series, reached the 100 mark in just 99 balls and that included 13 fours and a six.
Du Preez and Lee shared 97 runs for the third wicket. India bounced back by picking two wickets — du Preez and Marizanne Kapp — in a span of two overs to even things out by reducing South Africa to 178 for four in the 38th over.
However, the threat was far from over for India as a determined Lee stood in between the hosts and the victory.
She was in no mood to give up and continued her attacking batting to keep the visitors in tune with the required rate.
Lee found an able partner in Anne Bosch (16 not out) and shared unconquered 45 runs for the fifth wicket to take South Africa home.
For India, veteran Jhulan Goswami picked up two wickets giving away just 20 runs in her 9 overs.
Earlier, Raut, who made 62 in a winning cause in the last match, continued her good form after the hosts were put in to bat.
She struck 11 boundaries during her knock. This was after India lost big-hitting opener Jemimah Rodrigues (0) in the second delivery of the innings when she nicked an away-swinging one to Sinalo Jafta off Shabnim Ismail (2/46).
Raut joined Smriti Mandhana (25 off 27) at the crease and the duo once again came to India’s rescue, sharing 64 runs off 70 balls for the second wicket to take the team forward.
Mandhana, however, couldn’t convert her start into a big score. Mithali, only the second internationally to complete 10,000 runs across all formats, departed soon after reaching the major milestone, flicking a Anne Bosch delivery straight to Mignon du Preez at mid-wicket.
Her 36 runs came off 50 balls and she hit five boundaries in the process.
Raut also fell soon after and Harmanpreet Kaur (36 off 46) played a quick knock before becoming Ismail’s second victim as India reached 221 for five in the 45th over.
Towards the end, Deepti Sharma (36 not out) and Sushma Verma (14 not out) remained unbeaten and shared 27 runs for the sixth wicket to take India close to the 250-run mark.
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