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India Women vs South Africa Women: India improve middle-over bowling as Deepti Sharma steps up to deliver | Cricket News

In the end, rain had the final say at Chepauk on Sunday. The evening started with an ominous dark cloud hovering over the MA Chidambaram Stadium, slowly making its way over the stands as the forecast predicted heavy showers. It got better but only just enough as South Africa’s batting innings was all the 13,000-plus strong crowd got to see. The visitors posted 177/6 in 20 overs, and India’s run-chase never got underway with the match abandoned due to persistent rain.

South Africa, batting first once again on the same pitch that was used for the first match, finished with 12 fewer runs. In those 20 overs though, there were some intriguing changes.

For starters, India’s fielding was a few notches better than Friday, as they set a better tempo right from the first over for ground fielding. Fielding coach Munish Bali spoke about his wards improving after an off-day, insisting once again that they work hard during the sessions. There was one fielding lapse, that came from Jemimah Rodrigues (arguably the best outfielder in this Indian squad) as her dropped catch in the last over to give a reprieve to Annerie Dercksen effectively resulted in a hat-trick of fours.

The second T20 cricket match of a series between India Women and South Africa Women being called off due to rain as shown on the big screen, at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, in Chennai The second T20 cricket match of a series between India Women and South Africa Women being called off due to rain as shown on the big screen, at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, in Chennai. (PTI)

Middle-over squeeze

But the most significant improvement was seen in India’s bowling during middle overs. South Africa were off to a flying start as they posted 66/1 at the end of the powerplay. Laura Wolvaardt once again got off the blocks quickly but was the first wicket to fall, while Tazmin Brits and Marizanne Kapp looked in fine touch. That is when Deepti Sharma came on to bowl the 7th over, and India began to apply the squeeze.

In the first T20I, after the powerplay South Africa scored 101 runs in the next 10 overs and lost just one wicket. In sharp contrast, between overs 7 to 16 on Sunday, India conceded just 65 runs. Deepti was at the heart of it as she finished the night with 2/20 in 4 overs. It was a sharp turnaround from her off day in the first outing, where she was uncharacteristically expensive (0/45 in 4 overs).

Festive offer

Radha Yadav had conceded on Friday post-match that India’s bowlers made errors in their lengths and that they should have probably pulled things back a bit length-wise. That is exactly what they managed to do, with Deepti leading the way. Her wickets of Kapp and Brits (both significant dismissals) were both effected by dragging the length back subtly, to draw a false shot from the batters.

 South Africa Women's Tazmin Brits plays a shot during the second T20 cricket match of a series between India Women and South Africa Women, at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, in Chennai South Africa Women’s Tazmin Brits plays a shot during the second T20 cricket match of a series between India Women and South Africa Women, at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, in Chennai. (PTI) South Africa Women's Tazmin Brits plays a shot during the second T20 cricket match of a series between India Women and South Africa Women, at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, in Chennai South Africa Women’s Tazmin Brits plays a shot during the second T20 cricket match of a series between India Women and South Africa Women, at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, in Chennai. (PTI)


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South Africa’s middle-order batter Anneke Bosch later remarked that with a softer ball, India went flatter through the air and even slowed their pace more, which made it hard to score runs. Brits was impressive once more, scoring back-to-back half centuries, but India showed significant improvements in their middle-over tactics. That they conceded 31 runs in the last two overs, however, undid much of that.

Rollercoaster debut for Uma

One of the four changes for India was behind the stumps as debutant Uma Chetry replaced Richa Ghosh. In the second over, Chetry thought she had her first official dismissal and celebrated the stumping of Brits but replays suggested that the Indian youngster had a tiny fraction of her gloves in front of the stumps while gathering the ball. Brits had made her way back to the dugout almost when the umpires intervened.

It cost India a few runs but Brits was eventually out stumped by Chetry off Deepti’s bowling. The big screens at the ground repeatedly showed replays of the stumping miss from earlier, and Chetry’s disappointment at making an error. But she got her mini redemption on the night. Munish Bali later spoke highly of Chetry’s attitude in training, and that even during the Test match when she was a substitute fielder for a significant period, her energy never went down. It was a nice little reward for the Assamese wicketkeeper, as she was mobbed by teammates for a second time on the night, this time for a dismissal that wasn’t overturned.


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