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cricket:image:1440530 [900x506] (Credit: BCCI)

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India 220 for 4 (Mandhana 90, Harmanpreet 42) beat South Africa 215 for 8 (Wolvaardt 61, Reddy 2-36, Deepti 2-27) by six wickets

A Smriti Mandhana masterclass and Arundhati Reddy's sharp bowling helped India beat South Africa by six wickets in the third and final ODI and seal the series 3-0 in Bengaluru.

Playing in front of 15,000 at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, crowd-favourite Mandhana led India's small chase of 216 but narrowly missed out on a century, making 90 off 83 balls. She finished the series with 343 runs after two hundreds in the first two games. Mandhana's total was also the highest in a three-match women's series, as she surpassed Laura Wolvaardt's 335 against Sri Lanka in April 2024.

She put on 61-run and 62-run stands with Shafali Verma (25) and Priya Punia (28), India's new no.3, to get the chase going. Seven of her 11 fours came on the offside, with six of them towards the cover region alone. Alongside Harmanpreet Kaur (42 0ff 48), she shared 48 off 47 to blunt the South African attack.

Adapting to different pitches and situations, Mandhana has shown immense maturity and clarity to play long innings, not just once but thrice, in a row. However, a top edge to Ayabonga Khaka at short fine leg in the 31st over ended her knock. India needed 45 from the remaining 19 overs then and the rest of the batters completed the formalities with 9.2 overs to spare.

The lack of a sixth bowling option hurt South Africa. Marizanne Kapp played all the matches as a specialist batter due to workload management after recovering from her back injury. Their premier spin-bowling allrounder Chole Tryon had to miss the tour due to recurring back injury.

Despite Wolvaardt acknowledging this in the past, South Africa went in with a like-for-like replacement for Masabata Klass with another right-arm Tumi Sukhukhune. A few individual brilliance aside, South Africa had failed to fire in unison in the series.

South Africa's innings of two halves

After coming close to chasing India's 325 in the second ODI, the visitors had an underwhelming outing with the bat after a brisk start from Wolvaardt and Tazmin Brits. They got through the first ten overs without losing a wicket, for the first time in this series, and added 46. Wolvaardt continued her purple patch, notching up her 32nd half-century in her 98th ODI.

She started sedately, making 9 off her 15 balls and then targeted Pooja Vastrakar in the 10th over, hammering four fours with featuring gorgeous cover drives and pulls. A sweep and a pull off Radha Yadav's left-arm spin fetched her two more fours, and she tapped a short and wide delivery off Smriti Mandhana to deep third.

At the other end, Brits had a cautious start after getting out for 18 and 5 in the first two games of the series. On Sunday, there was intent to stay longer in her comeback series following a knee injury. A six over deep midwicket and fours to fine leg and deep backward point gave the impression of her getting her rhythm back.

The duo took the team past hundred in 119 balls and looked set to keep the momentum going. But an outstanding reaction catch from Reddy dismissed Wolvaardt for a 57-ball 61, ending the 102-run partnership in the 20th over.

In the following over, Brits was run out for 66-ball 38 after a mix-up with Marizanne Kapp, who was promoted to no.3 after her century in the previous game.

In her five-over third spell, Reddy produced another moment of brilliance, another catch in the follow-through to send Anneke Bosch back. Two overs later, Shreyanka Patil, who had come in for legspinner S Asha, dismissed Kapp caught and bowled for 7, by going around the wicket for the fifth ball after bowling the previous four from over the wicket.

From 102 for 0, South Africa were left reeling at 120 for 4. Cameos from Nadine de Klerk and Mieke de Ridder helped them post over 200, but India's tight bowling never let them into the game.

On a pitch with cracks on one half and grass on the other, Harmanpreet opened the bowling with Patil and kept at least one spinner at play at one almost throughout the innings. Reddy was the best bowler of the day, finishing with figures of 2 for 36 in ten overs spread across four spells.

Deepti Sharma, the most economical bowler of the day, also had her moment picking up two wickets in two balls bowling de Klerk and Nonkululeko Mlaba out in the 43rd over.

There was slight drizzle after the first innings but it, too, fizzled out like South Africa's batting, and did not result in overs being lost.