It was not just a challenging target set by India that the South African women were chasing on Sunday night. They were chasing history too.
And they did it – off the last ball. They won the second T20I by six wickets to claim their first ever series against India in the format.
While poor fielding and catching made things easier for them, chasing 159 was indeed a creditable effort. Opener Lizelle Lee (70, 45b, 11×4, 1×6) and Laura Wolvaardt (53 not out, 39b, 7×4) were the architects of the chase.
When the hard-hitting Lee, who was dropped twice, was dismissed by left-arm spinner Radha Yadav in the 16th over, India was back in it.
But, Wolvaardt showed nerves of steel to take her side home. Nine was needed off the 20th over, and one off the final delivery. The 21-year-old scampered home for a single to trigger celebrations in the South Africa dugout.
Earlier, two 17-year-olds — opener Shafali Verma and No. 5 Richa Ghosh — produced quality batting at either end of the Indian innings to ensure that the goodly, vocal crowd had something to cheer about.
India had a poor start once again as skipper Smriti Mandhana edged a wide delivery from seamer Shabnim Ismail to the wicketkeeper. Harleen Deol, who had made her maiden International half-century just a day ago, was content to play second fiddle to the aggressive Shafali.
The teenaged opener hit the experienced Shabnim for three fours in her second over. Shafali then smashed seamer Nadine de Klerk straight over her head for a four before hitting her for a six.
Shafali (47 31b, 6×4, 2×6) added 79 for the second wicket with Harleen (31, 31b, 4×4) before she was bowled by left-arm spinner Nonkululeko Mlaba after missing the line completely.
However, Richa ensured that India finished with a flourish. Playing in only her fifth match, the Siliguri teenager’s superb timing and powerful shots saw her compile an unbeaten 26-ball 44 (8×4).
Shafali and Richa’s knocks were, however, not enough for India on this night.