South Africa 113 for 5 (Tryon 57*, De Klerk 17*, Rana 2-21) beat India 109 for 4 (Deol 46, Harmanpreet 21, Mlaba 2-16) by five wickets
On a day when majority of the batters toiled, Chloe Tryon showed them how its done and steered South Africa to victory in the tri-series final in East London.
Coming in at No. 5 when South Africa were reeling in at 21 for 3, Tryon's calculative and magnificent 57 not out helped the team chase down 110 despite the troubles posed by a slow pitch that was conducive to spin. It was her first T20I fifty as well.
After opting to bat, India were restricted to 109 for 4. It was thanks largely to Harleen Deol's 46 off 56 they even got past 100. And as well as they started in defence of that small total, in the end, it wasn't enough as a South African team battling a bit of off-field controversy found some joy on it.
Tryon, the saviour
Like India, South Africa also got off to a slow start with Deepti Sharma beginning with a maiden over. The first eight overs of spin saw South Africa lose their key opener Laura Wolvaardt to a nine-ball duck and Tazmin Brits for a 15-ball 8 inside the powerplay.
Lara Goodall, who came in place of allrounder Marizanne Kapp in the XI, soon departed when left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad clean-bowled her in the seventh over. Three down, South Africa were starting to fret over the target.
In came Tryon, and the momentum shifted.
India then decided to introduce pace from the ninth over, and South Africa benefited from the move. Twelve runs off the 13th over set the tone for the chase and they immediately changed to spin by handing the ball to Sneh Rana, who replaced pacer Shikha Pandey in the XI.
She struck on the first ball, removing Annerie Dercksen for an 11-ball 8 with a caught-and-bowled dismissal to pull things back for India. The equation came down to 44 off 41 with five wickets in hand for South Africa and the match looked evenly poised at that stage. But Tryon was not done yet.
She looked at ease against both spinners and pacers, hitting six fours and two sixes. After Rana's over, India again went back to pace via Pooja Vastrakar and she was punished for 14 runs. Tryon followed it up with a huge six off Deepti in the 16th over and thereon, it was South Africa's game.
India struggle on tricky pitch
India got off to a slow, shaky start after opting to bat. Shabnim Ismail fired up two maidens and left-arm spinner Nonkululeko Mlaba, who extracted turn and bounce, struck early to remove both the openers - Smriti Mandhana for an eight-ball duck and Jemimah Rodrigues for 11 off 18. At the halfway mark, the visitors were 43 for 2, hoping for their captain Harmanpreet Kaur and Harleen Deol to not only steady the innings but also pick up some pace.
Deol, at No.3, took 30 deliveries to reach her first 19 runs and with the duo in the crease, India reached 50 in the 12th over. Harmanpreet, who scored a 22-ball 21, perished when she charged down the track to go big against turn as Sinalo Jafta quickly removed the bails. The dismissal was similar to Rodrigues, who also stepped out of the crease for a ball that spun away from Nonkululeko Mlaba.
Deol then huffed and puffed to 46 with Deepti Sharma hitting an unbeaten 16 off 14 in the end. Deol's sedate innings consisted of four fours, and she also got a life on 42 when Ayabonga Khaka dropped a catch at short fine leg in the penultimate over. Khaka made it up by dismissing Deol in the final over.