Johannesburg: India's middle-order collapsed after a fiery start as South Africa won the third T20 by five wickets to keep the five-match series alive. Indian women, eyeing their maiden T20 series win in South Africa after winning the first two matches, collapsed to 133 in 17.5 overs after being placed at a solid 93 for two in the 12th over.
South Africa's top-order came out firing and overhauled the target with one over to spare. They lost Lizelle Lee (5) early before skipper Dane van Niekerk (26 off 20) and Sune Luus (41 off 34) steadied the ship.
After Van Niekerk's dismissal, Luus and Mignon du Preez (20) raised a 50-run stand for the third wicket to lay the base for the comfortable chase. Chloe Tryon (34 off 15) also played a quick knock to help the home team's cause.
For India, medium pacer Pooja Vastrakar picked up two wickets, giving away just 21 runs from her four overs. Off-spinner Anuja Patil was a big let down for India today as she conceded 44 runs from her four overs and accounted for just one wicket.
Earlier put into bat, India were cruising at one stage with skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (48) punishing the home bowlers with her thunderous strokes. Harmanpreet smashed two sixes six fours in her 30-ball knock.
However, once the aggressive Indian captain and left-handed opener Smriti Mandhana (37) were dismissed, the tourists lost wickets in a heap to be bowled out in 17.5 overs. After losing the seasoned Mithali Raj for a duck in the very first over, Harmanpreet and Smriti (37) added 55 runs for the second wicket in quick time.
The partnership was broken by leg-spinner Van Niekerk, who had the left-handed Smriti caught by Moseline Daniels. Smriti took 24 balls for her 37 which had five fours and one shot over the ropes.
Harmanpreet was caught behind off pacer Shabnim Ismail, who emerged as the wrecker-in-chief with a five-wicket haul. It was a career-best figures for Shabnim, who conceded only 30 runs. Medium pacer Masabata Klaas (2/20) also contributed by assisting Shabnim in dismantling the Indian middle-order. The fourth T20 will be played in Centurion on Wednesday.