Women’s Test: Luus, Wolvaardt steal spotlight from Sneh Rana

By BD Narayankar

Chennai, June 30 (UNI) Indian spinner Sneh Rana’s glittering eight-wicket haul was met with sparkling batting performances by South Africa’s Sune Luus and Laura Wolvaardt on day three of their one-off Test here on Sunday, though the visitors still face an uphill task to save the match.

At the draw of stumps, South Africa were 232/2, still 105 runs adrift of India. The tourists folded for 266 in their first innings and were asked to follow on. The hosts had declared their first innings at 603/6.

India will need to focus on taking wickets early on Day 4 to regain control, with the pitch still offering some assistance.

After an intense first session, many expected the match to conclude swiftly, but South Africa had other plans. Luus and Wolvaardt orchestrated a remarkable comeback, making the Indian bowlers toil under the scorching sun.

Luus, demonstrating exceptional grit, scored a century, while Wolvaardt is on the verge of her own, just a few runs shy of reaching the milestone. Their determination and resilience stood out as they battled the oppressive heat, high humidity, tricky spin, and variable bounce to stymie the Indian attack.

Earlier in the day, India wrapped up the remaining six wickets of South Africa’s first innings within the first hour of play. However, South Africa’s second innings proved more challenging for the hosts.

Despite a couple of late chances from Marizanne Kapp, India failed to capitalise, with Deepti Sharma dropping crucial catches, one at slip and another off her own bowling.

As day four approaches, all eyes will be on the partnership of Kapp and Wolvaardt. The pair will aim to extend their innings and put South Africa in a stronger position.

India showcased their supremacy by enforcing the follow-on after dismissing South Africa for 266 runs in their first innings. The day belonged to Rana, whose outstanding performance saw her claim eight wickets, dismantling the South African batting lineup with skillful variations and precise control.

Starting the day at 236/4, South Africa could only add 30 runs to their overnight total before being bowled out. Despite efforts from their lower order, none of the top-order batswomen managed to convert their starts into substantial scores, leaving South Africa vulnerable against India’s disciplined bowling attack.

In response, India opted to enforce the follow-on, putting pressure on South Africa to bat again after falling short of India’s first innings total. The decision immediately paid dividends as India’s spinners continued to exploit the turning pitch. Deepti, complementing Rana’s brilliance, made crucial breakthroughs to further destabilize South Africa’s batting lineup.

At lunch on Day 3, South Africa found themselves struggling at 29/1 in their second innings, still trailing by a significant margin. India’s spinners, supported by strategic field placements, maintained a tight grip on the proceedings, leaving South Africa with a monumental task to avoid defeat.

Amidst India’s commanding performance, there was a brief moment of concern when Sneh Rana left the field due to injury during the second innings. However, India’s overall dominance remained unaffected as they continued to dictate terms in the match.

Brief scores

India Women: 1st innings: 603/6 declared; South Africa Women: 1st innings: 266 (Sneh Rana 8/85), 2nd innings (following on): 232/2 (Sune Luus 109, Laura Wolvaardt 93*). Match Status: Day 3: Stumps: South Africa Women trail by 105 runs.

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