Raj, Rodrigues help India achieve away-series double

India 166 for 4 (Raj 62, Rodrigues 44, Harmanpreet 27) beat South Africa 112 (Kapp 27, Tryon 25, Pandey 3-16, Gayakwad 3-26, Dhar 3-26) by 54 runs

A 98-run stand between half-centurion Mithali Raj and Jemimah Rodrigues, followed by an inspired effort by their bowling and fielding units, helped India complete a 54-run win in the fifth T20I and seal a first-ever away-series double. Having won the ODI series 2-1, India clinched the T20I series 3-1, bowling South Africa out for 112 in 18 overs in Cape Town.

Having put India in, Marizanne Kapp removed Smriti Mandhana inside the Powerplay. Mandhana's opening partner Raj, however, pressed on to her third half-century - a 50-ball 62 studded with short-arm pulls, sweeps and cuts that brought her eight fours and three sixes. Keeping her company for 11.3 overs was the 17-year-old Jemimah Rodrigues, whose promotion to No. 3 - which has otherwise been the slot earmarked for captain Harmanpreet Kaur in this series - paid off.

Having been reprieved on 15 by wicketkeeper Lizelle Lee, Rodrigues waltzed to a 34-ball 44. Raj and Rodrigues then fell in successive overs, to Shabnim Ismail and Ayabonga Khaka respectively. India were 134 for 4, with 3.1 overs left. Harmanpreet partnered Veda Krishnamurthy in a brisk 32-run stand, reeling off 27 off 17 balls courtesy a four and two massive sixes that sailed into the leg-side stands. Krishnamurthy pinched eight off the six balls she faced, before being run-out off the final ball of the innings as India finished on 166 for 4.

India's momentum, gathered through the closing overs of their innings, was kept going by their quick-bowling troika of Pooja Vastrakar, Shikha Pandey and Rumeli Dhar, who reduced the hosts to 22 for 3 inside six overs. While Vastrakar opened with a maiden over, Dhar accounted for both openers - Dane van Niekerk her first wicket upon returning to international cricket after a six-year hiatus.

Pandey subsequently sent back Sune Luus, followed by the wickets of Mignon du Preez and Nadine de Klerk in the space of three balls in the ninth over. Half the South African line-up had been sniped out for 44. Chloe Tryon tried resuscitating the chase, hitting two sixes, but could not go beyond a 17-ball 25 as she holed out off Rajeshwari Gayakwad. Harmanpreet completed a regulation catch at long-off and blew a kiss as a follow-up act.

That three of South Africa's partnerships ended in the twenties, the highest being a seventh-wicket stand of 29 between Shabnim Ismail and Marizanne Kapp, underlined their inability to deal with the lack of pace from the Indian attack, aided by some agile fielding. While Harmanpreet and Mandhana prevented at least three fours by throwing themselves around near the rope, Rodrigues pulled off a stunner at the deep-square leg boundary to send back Kapp for a 21-ball 27. Rodriguez's two-handed back-arch-and-leap act gave Dhar her third wicket before Gayakwad took out the tail; both finished with identical returns of 3 for 26, though Gayakwad bowled one over less.