15-year-old Shafali Verma overcame the disappointment of her debut in style to struck a quick-fire 46 which laid the platform for India in the rain-curtailed fourth T20I against South Africa women on Tuesday. Later spinner Poonam Yadav claimed three wickets to restrict South Africa for 89 /7 and scripted a convincing 51-run win for the hosts in Surat. Courtesy this, the women in blue took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the five-match series. Shafali, who was dismissed for a four-ball duck on her debut in the opening match, smashed five boundaries and two sixes to give the world a glimpse of her skills in the entertaining 33-ball knock. Jemimah Rodrigues (33) also contributed with a 22-ball 33.
Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (16) and Deepti Sharma (20 not out) also came up with useful contributions as India women posted a competitive 140 for four in a match which was reduced to 17 overs due to rain. Chasing 141 to win, South Africa lost opener Lizelle Lee (9) early with Pooja Vastrakar producing a direct throw. Laura Wolvaardt (23) then added 39 runs with Tazmin Brits (20) before the former was dismissed by left-arm spinner Radha Yadav (2/16) in the 8th over.
Poonam (3/13) then weaved her magic, striking twice in two balls to leave South Africa at 65 for four in 10.5 overs. The 28-year-old leg-spinner first dismissed Nadine de Klerk (9), who tried to go aerial only to find Shafali Verma at covers, and then removed M du Preez (0), who was caught at long-on by Veda Krishnamurthy.
Skipper Sune Luus then became the third victim of Poonam. She was stumped by Taniya Bhatia as South Africa looked down the barrel at 72 for 5 in 12.5 overs. Brits was then cleaned up by Deepti Sharma (1/19) as the visitors slumped to 74/6.
Earlier, Shafali, playing only the second T20I of her career, added 52 runs off 42 balls for the opening wicket Smriti Mandhana (13) before seamer Nadine de Klerk (2/24) produced the first breakthrough in the 7th over. Shafali was then cleaned up by Tumi Sekhukhune (1/22) when she was trying to go for a big shot over cover only to see the ball get a thick inside edge and disturb the stumps.
Harmanpreet and Rodrigues added 24 runs before the skipper holed out to long-on in the 11th over off de Klerk as India women slipped to 89 for three. Rodrigues and Deepti then took India across the 100-mark. The duo shared a 40-mark partnership before Rodrigues was bowled by Khaka (1/33) in the 16th over.
India had won the opening game of the series versus Proteas women by 11 runs. The second and third T20I were washed out. India will now take on South Africa in the fifth T20I on Friday.