Shabnim Ismail led a stunning fightback by South Africa which kept alive their hopes in the five-match T20 series against India, by picking up the first five wicket haul of her career.
Ismail recovered from a bruising attack from Indian opener, Smriti Mandhana, who picked up four consecutive boundaries – the first the result of overthrows – in Ismail’s first over, to turn the match decisively in South Africa’s over just after the halfway point of the Indian innings.
The early dismissal of Mithali Raj, who’d dominated the first two matches of the series for the tourists by making a pair of unbeaten half-centuries, did nothing to prevent the Indians attacking South Africa early on after Dane van Niekerk had chosen to field upon winning the toss.
Mandhana smashed 17 runs in that second over bowled by Ismail and shared a partnership of 55 for the second wicket with her captain the equally hard hitting Harmanpreet Kaur, which gave the tourists the initiative early.
Mandhana was eventually caught on the midwicket boundary for 37 (24b, 5x4, 1x6), but Kaur kept up the Indian dominance smashing 18 off the 11th over bowled by Raisibe Ntozakhe, the young off-spinner, who’d before then bowled with excellent control and composure.
Just as it looked like the match was slipping away from the hosts, Van Niekerk tossed the ball back to her quickest bowler. It was a move that paid dividends immediately.
“Dane said we needed a breakthrough when she came back to me, and her showing she still believed in me after I’d gone for 17 in my first over, that really pumped me up,” said Ismail.
She dismissed Kaur with the ball that moved away beautifully off the surface with wicket-keeper Lizelle Lee taking an excellent diving catch, to get rid of the Indian captain for 48 (30b, 6x4, 2x6). Two balls later, Jemimah Rodrigues was superbly caught by Sune Luus for 6 and the momentum of the innings and ultimately the match changed.
Ismail cleaned up the tail, becoming just the second South African women’s player (after Luus, who claimed 5/8 against Ireland in the Women’s World T20 two years ago) to pick up a ‘five-fer’ in T20 Internationals, finishing with 5/30 from 3.5 overs.
“Dane told me to use my aggression, just bowl the ball. There is bounce here at the Wanderers, so you don’t have to go ‘searching’ for wickets, they’ll come.”
Kapp was typically miserly, conceding just six runs in three overs, with the wicket of Raj, a major blow.
South Africa never allowed the required run rate to get away from them. Luus scored an efficient 41 (34b, 5x4) sharing the highest partnership for the innings of 50 with Mignon du Preez (20, 27b).
The highlight of the South African innings was Chloe Tryon’s ‘finishing’ effort that saw her score 34 (15b, 4x4, 2x6) with the second of a her sixes, travelling 10m back into the Taverners Stand.
The fourth match of the series will take place at SuperSport Park on Wednesday.