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Shikha Pandey helps Indian women level series against South Africa

Shikha Pandey's all-round performance helped India Women beat South Africa Women by six wickets to level the ODI series 1-1 on Wednesday

Bengaluru: A brilliant half century from Shikha Pandey helped India win the second women's One-day International of the three-match series against South Africa by six wickets at the Chinnaswamy Stadium here yesterday.

With the win, India levelled the series 1-1 and kept their hope alive to clinch the series. The third and deciding match will be played at the same venue on Friday. Shikha, who earlier hauled three South African wickets, put on a match-winning 89-run stand for the fourth wicket with Harmanpreet Kaur (42 not out off 61 balls with four boundaries), to help India post 187 for four in 44.4 overs.

South Africa, who were sent into bat by India Captain Mithali Raj, were restricted to 186 for eight in stipulated 50 overs, with some good bowling by right-arm medium pacer Shikha and right-arm orthodox leg-spinner Ekta Bisht. Shikha, who cracked her maiden ODI half century, was dismissed for 59 off 56 balls when she was caught by Aakash Rawat off Marizanne Kapp.

Shikha, the Goan girl, raced to her half century, smashing eight boundaries and a six along the way. India started the run chase rather sedately with Poonam Raut and Smriti Mandhana, accumulating 37 runs in 14 overs, before the later offered a catch to Sunette Loubser off Dane Van Niekerk for 16 off 42 balls. Mithali did not last long. She succumbed to Niekerk by giving a catch to Loubser after she made six off 18 balls, while bulk of the scoring was being done by Poonam.

Poonam was looking good, defending and attacking the balls according to the merit of the ball, was removed leg before wicket by Lizelle Lee after she scored 47 off 77 balls with eight boundaries. South African bowlers - Kapp, Niekerk, Loubser and Lee - did not have much to offer for scorers as they took one wicket each among themselves.

Earlier, Indians bowlers did not disappoint skipper Mithali Raj as they put on yet another splendid performance to restrict the visitors to 186 for eight in 50 overs.
Chloe Tryon's knock, who scored a match-winning fifty in the first one-dayer, was perhaps the only bright spot for South Africa as she made a quickfire unbeaten 49 off 34 balls with four bou ndaries and a six.

However, others simply failed to make any significant contribution, except the knocks of Lizelle Lee (21), Mignon Du Preez (36) and Dane Van Niekerk (28), gave some opportunity for South African bowlers to make a match out of it. Right-arm medium Shikha Pandey and slow left-arm orthodox Ekta Bisht, were excellent as both brought variety on the platter, which was too much for the South African batters to handle with.

Shikha struck early blows which sent the visitors into the hole as they were struggling at 63 for four, with three of these wickets hogged by Goan player. She claimed Lee, Nadine Moodley and Mariznne Kapp and ended up with figures of three for nineteen runs in stipulated 10 overs. Ekta with her orthodox leg-spin provided variety into the Indian attack as she capitalized on the early blows given by Shikha, who removed Niekerk, Sunette Louber (7) and Yolani Fourie (10).

A 54-run partnership between Du Preez and Niekerk for fifth wicket, brought the South African innings on track, but it did not have much impact on the overall total. They both took South Africa past 100, but there was another wobble in store. The next three batters - Niekerk, Loubser and Fourie - were sent back in quick successions.

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