India overpower SA in thrilling women’s Test

By BD Narayankar
Chennai, July 1 (UNI) In a breathtaking display of dominance, India clinched a 10-wicket victory over South Africa in the one-off Test at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here on Monday.

In a rarity in the women’s format, the match showcased the finest elements of Test cricket, leaving spectators on the edge of their seats.

India set the stage with a monumental first innings total of 603/6, powered by Smriti Mandhana’s elegant 149 and Shafali Verma’s blistering 205. Their relentless scoring rate kept South Africa under constant pressure, a testament to India’s aggressive approach and strategic mastery.

South Africa’s response was valiant yet insufficient, folding for 266 in their first innings. Sneh Rana emerged as the tormentor-in-chief, claiming a remarkable 8-wicket haul, decimating the South African lineup. The Indian camp, sensing an opportunity for an early finish, enforced the follow-on.

Despite facing an insurmountable task, South Africa’s Sune Luus (109) and Laura Wolvaardt (122) showcased extraordinary grit, crafting centuries to thwart the Indian attack on the third day. Their heroic resistance, complemented by Nadine de Klerk’s fighting 61, extended the second innings to a respectable 373.

In the final stretch, India’s bowlers, relentless in their pursuit of victory, dismantled the South African resistance, setting up a straightforward chase. The victory highlights India’s prowess in women’s Test cricket and underscores their resilience and strategic acumen.

Wolvaardt’s century was a milestone, making her the first South African cricketer to score centuries in all three formats. Her partnership with Luus was a masterclass in defiance, providing a glimmer of hope amidst the Indian onslaught.

However, India’s bowlers struck crucial blows to regain control. Deepti Sharma’s off-spin proved lethal, trapping Marizanne Kapp LBW for 31 and dismissing Tucker for a duck, shifting momentum firmly back in India’s favor.

Rajeshwari Gayakwad’s early breakthrough on the final day, claiming Wolvaardt’s wicket with a sublime delivery, further crippled the South African effort. Despite these setbacks, de Klerk’s determined innings showcased her mental fortitude, guiding her team out of precarious positions time and again.

In the end, the Indian team’s clinical performance sealed a memorable victory, etching this match in the annals of women’s cricket history. As the final wicket fell, the stadium erupted in celebration, marking a triumph that will be remembered for years to come.

Brief scores: India 603/6 decl (Shafali Verma 205, Smriti Mandhana 149, Richa Ghosh 86, Harmanpreet Kaur 69; Delmi Tucker 2-141) and 37/0 (Shafali Verma 24*) beat South Africa 266 (Marizanne Kapp 74, Sune Luus 65; Sneh Rana 8-77, Deepti Sharma 2-47) and 373 (Sune Luus 109, Laura Wolvaardt 122, Nadine de Klerk 61; Rajeshwari Gayakwad 2-55, Deepti Sharma 2-95, Sneh Rana 2-111 ) by 10 wickets.

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