IND v SA [W] 2024, IND-W vs SA-W Only Test Match Report, June 28 – July 01, 2024

South Africa 232 for 2 (Luus 109, Wolvaardt 93*, Harmanpreet 1-24) and 266 (Kapp 74, Luus 65, Rana 8-77) trail India 603 for 6 dec by 105 runs

For the second consecutive day, South Africa’s batters showed mental toughness to stay in the game after being put on the back foot by the Indian bowlers in the one-off women’s Test. If Sune Luus and Marizanne Kapp fought hard on the second day after India declared at 603 for 6, Sunday witnessed some extraordinary batting from Luus and Laura Wolvaardt which helped the visitors cut down the deficit to 105 runs, after they were bowled out for 266 in the first innings.

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At stumps, South Africa were 232 for 2, with Luus notching up her maiden Test hundred and Wolvaardt remaining unbeaten on 93.

It was an eventful opening session for India on a hazy morning where Sneh Rana‘s sensational bowling on a pitch offering more turn in the first hour fetched her eight wickets, five more to Saturday’s tally, as South Africa lost 6 for 30 from their overnight score of 236 for 4.

Rana got the first breakthrough, in her third over, fifth of the day, to dismiss a well-set Kapp for 74 with an almost unplayable delivery. Kapp fell for the extra bounce as the ball, after pitching on off and middle, popped up to beat her outside edge and take the top of off stump. This triggered the collapse as three balls later she removed wicketkeeper Sinalo Jafta, who inside-edged one to Shubha Satheesh at short leg.

Three overs later, Deepti Sharma picked up her second wicket. This time the ball stayed low when debutant Annerie Dercksen missed her defence to get hit on her back pad and was trapped lbw. South Africa took the review but it was in vain. In the following over, Rana took her sixth wicket when Nadine de Klerk perished while trying to whip one towards square leg where Rajeshwari Gayakwad dived in front to complete the catch.

When India enforced the follow-on, South Africa were still trailing by 337 runs. They then lost Anneke Bosch early to low bounce when she was trapped lbw by Deepti in first over. Wolvaardt nailed her cover drive a few times and looked assured in her approach. At lunch, South Africa were 29 for 1. The hosts struggled from thereon to go wicketless for close to 66 overs across the second and third session.

In this period, Luus and Wolvaardt shared a mammoth 190-run partnership for the second wicket to blunt the Indian attack and provide South Africa a hope of a draw, going into the final day. It was South Africa’s highest partnership for any wicket in women’s Tests.

South Africa came out in the afternoon session, determined to play the long game and they succeeded, scoring 95 runs in 34 overs to take tea at 124 for 1. Luus, who made 65 off 164 balls in the first innings, carried forward that form and temperament, moving to 64 off 121 balls at the end of second session. She was positive and solid while defending and punished the loose deliveries.

Having been trapped lbw due to a low bounce in the first innings, Wolvaardt used the depth of the crease more in the second dig. She pulled short deliveries through square leg and drove the fuller ones to long-on. The duo was unhurried and compact through their partnership.

India toiled hard to break the stand with Harmanpreet Kaur trying as many as seven bowlers, including herself. They couldn’t stay disciplined with their lengths and speeds in the second innings. Perhaps longer time in the middle could have led to tired legs. That reared its head when Deepti dropped two catches – both of Kapp – in the last two overs of the day.

Wolvaardt and Luus, though, reaped rewards of patience on a pitch that got slower after the first session.

Consuming more than 200 balls meant Luus and Wolvaardt also had gotten used to the low bounce, with only the odd delivery popping up in the last two sessions of the day. Luus spent 234 minutes on the field, hitting 18 fours. When she reached her half-century, Luus brought out the rocking baby cradle celebration, a gesture for the team’s strength and conditioning coach Zane Webster who is an expectant father. She scored her maiden century in the final session, and became only the second South African to score a hundred in India in women’s Tests.

The huge stand was finally broken by Harmanpreet when she cleaned up Luus in the 74th over. The low bounce came to her aid as Luus went back to pull but missed the ball. With Kapp on the other end, Wolvaardt marched on to finish unbeaten. That has raised hopes of a South African lead on the last day, a scenario that looked near-impossible at the start of Sunday.

For India, Jemimah Rodrigues was off the field for a majority of the last two sessions because of cramps.

Srinidhi Ramanujam is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo

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