India loses despite posting the highest total in the series so far; Mithali reaches a milestone.
Despite a whirlwind 132 with 16 fours and two sixes, opener Lizelle Lee was denied the privilege of providing the finishing touches, as rain intervened in the climax, and forced the umpires to declare South Africa the winner on better run-rate in the third ODI at the Ekana Stadium here on Friday.
Chasing 249, the highest total in the series so far, South Africa had a hesitant start when new captain Laura Wolvaart was dismissed after labouring for 12 runs.
Lee then took the bowling apart, hitting both the medium-pacers and spinners all over the park. The limited support she needed from the other end was provided by Mignon du Preez (37) and Lara Goodall (16), as Lee single handedly tore apart the Indian resistance.
Yet, at 223 for four in 46.3 overs, it was anybody’s match when rain provided an unexpected twist to the tale.
It was Lee’s third hundred in one-dayers, following the ones against England and Australia. She scored 132 off 131 balls and was adjudged the player of the match.
Jhulan the exception
Among the Indian bowlers, Jhulan Goswami stood out, picking up two for 20 in nine overs, while the rest were at the mercy of Lee.
India had reasons to believe that it had a winning total, when Punam Raut top-scored with 77, while skipper Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur and Deepti Sharma scored 36 each.
Opener Smriti Mandhana missed out on more when she lost patience on 25, while Jemimah Rodrigues was again dismissed early.
Mithali crossed the milestone of being only the second woman cricketer to score 10,000 international runs, after Charlotte Edwards (10273) of England.
The joy of the Indian batting and the accomplishments were eventually sidelined as Lee shook the Indian team out of its slumber, with a hurricane knock that brought the rains.
India has two more ODIs to get its act right.