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IND vs SA: Thrilling Victory And Heroes Behind India’s Memorable Win Over South Africa

In a nail-biting contest at Bengaluru, India secured a thrilling 4-run victory over South Africa in the second One-Day International (ODI), sealing the series win. The match was marked by outstanding performances from Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur, whose centuries powered India to a formidable total of 325 runs.

Mandhana, who scored her seventh ODI century, amassed 136 runs with a remarkable blend of patience and aggression. Harmanpreet Kaur, on the other hand, played a contrasting yet equally effective innings. Starting at a brisk pace, she accelerated further, predominantly targeting the leg side. Her 103 not out included four boundaries and three sixes, with a significant portion of her runs coming from the midwicket region. This dynamic duo put on a colossal 171-run partnership off just 136 balls, not only overcoming the initial slow start but also setting a daunting target for South Africa.

A Surprise Bowling Prowess

While Mandhana and Kaur’s centuries were the highlight, the match also had an unexpected twist with Smriti Mandhana’s bowling. In a post-match video released by the BCCI, Kaur humorously recounted how Mandhana, usually the batting powerhouse, contributed significantly with the ball.

“When I asked Smriti her favourite moment of the game, she turned the tables and asked me instead. I candidly told her it was her bowling because she has always won games for India with the bat,” Kaur shared, highlighting the unusual yet effective decision.

“We had a batting camp where we did a lot of bowling practice. Smriti told me, ‘Give me an over and as soon as I get a wicket, I’ll run all over the ground.’ True to her word, after her wicket, she ran half the ground and was exhausted,” Kaur added with a chuckle.

Mandhana’s own take on the moment was equally delightful. She said, “The wicket moment was special, but my century was definitely significant. However, I celebrated Harman’s century more. And when everyone celebrated my unexpected wicket, it was funny. I would like to thank Sune Luus, who is my first international wicket.”

A Well-Executed Plan

The decision to bowl Mandhana was not spontaneous but stemmed from their intensive practice sessions. Harmanpreet elaborated, “It was all your hard work because in the batting camp, we took our bowling very seriously because as a batting unit, it’s important to chip in with the ball when needed. Today, we were a medium-pacer short, so the two overs by Smriti were crucial. She got a vital wicket, which could have changed the game had the duo of Luus and Laura Wolvaardt capitalized, things could have been different.”

Mandhana, revealing the light-hearted side of their practice, said, “I think Harman is being kind because she threatened me in practice sessions that if I didn’t bowl here then she wouldn’t let me bowl in the match so you have made me bowl now.” To which Harmanpreet responded, “It’s imperative to practice because if you don’t, how will you trust your skills on match day? Smriti getting a few wickets in practice gave me the confidence to give her the ball in the match.”

The crowd’s reaction was another highlight. “The crowd seemed to enjoy it, and now they will want Smriti to bowl more. ‘Smriti ko bowling do’—Give Smriti the ball. We’ll give her opportunities going ahead in the series,” Harmanpreet said, capturing the spectators’ enthusiasm.

The Road Ahead

Looking ahead, both players expressed optimism about the team’s prospects. Smriti acknowledged the importance of the series win and the preparation that went into it. “In the larger context, the series win was crucial and this was an important series. Our preparation was really good and while we dwell into the series win and more on when you came on to bat was brilliant. People praise and criticise but no one really sees the hard work that goes on behind the scenes so you coming in at that juncture in the match was very important,” she said.

Harmanpreet emphasized the importance of practice and execution. “When I came in the morning, I did an hour’s worth of batting and that gave me a lot of confidence. Even in the last game, I was in good touch and rhythm but it was unfortunate that I could not carry on. Today the idea was to choose the right ball at the right time and take risks as and when needed to carry on with it.

Also while Smriti was there, it was ideal to give her strike and I had done all that during my practice as well so I was able to execute the same during the match as well. Then I was confident that with what I had done in practice, just do that as in the match it wouldn’t seem like I’m doing something different,” she explained.

As India celebrates this memorable win, the camaraderie and strategic brilliance of the team stand out. With a blend of batting prowess and unexpected bowling heroics, India has not only secured a series victory but also won the hearts of fans, promising an exciting future for women’s cricket.

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