Debutant Amanjot Kaur came up with a matured knock of unbeaten 41 off 30 balls as India fought back from a wobbly situation to post a 27-run win over South Africa in their Women's T20I Tri-Series opener. (More Cricket News)
Opting to bowl on a dry and slow Buffalo Park strip, the hosts sent back half of the Indian side inside 12 overs with just 69 runs on the board.
From thereon, Deepti Sharma (33 from 23 balls) took control of the proceedings with the 23-year-old Amanjot playing the perfect second fiddle in their match-turning 76-run partnership off just 50 balls to prop India to a challenging 147 for 6 on Thursday night.
In reply, the Indian spinners exploited the conditions well with senior off-spinner Deepti leading the show with figures of 3/30 to restrict South Africa to 120 for 9. India suffered an early setback as skipper Harmanpreet Kaur didn't play because of illness and in her absence Smriti Mandhana led the side. India did not have the best of starts as Mandhana got out cheaply for seven in the third over when she miscued one to Chloe Troyn at mid-off.
Opening in absence of Shafali Verma, wicketkeeper-batter Yaskita Bhatia (35 off 34 balls; 3x4s, 1x6) held on to one end but wickets kept on falling at the other side.
After Mandhan's departure, Harleen Deol (8), Jemimah Rodrigues (0) and Devika Vaidya (9) also fell cheaply to have India in real trouble at 69 for 5 in 11.4 overs.
South Africa skipper Sune Luus rotated her bowlers, giving them a one-over spell in the first four overs and managed to keep the runs under check as India made just in 29 for 1 in powerplay.
Harleen looked to seize control and attacked left-arm spinner Nonkululeko Mlaba but she was run-out after caught in two minds to go for a second just after the powerplay.
There was sheer lack of application from the Indian top-order and Jemimah Rodigues was the next depart, caught by South Africa keeper Sinalo Jafta.
With both Shafali and Richa Ghosh busy doing national duty in the inaugural U-19 T20I World Cup, Yastika made most of the opportunity to get off to a good start.
She also got a reprieve while on two but she gradually settled on the tricky surface and showed her intention with a six off Masabata Klaas over fine .
But the well-set Yastika failed to convert it to a big one and was foxed by off-spinner Delmi Tucker's by a quick one that skidded off her back pad to unsettle the stumps.
In addition of nine runs, India lost another wicket in the form of Devika to have their top-five back in the dug-out before Deepti once again bailed them out.
Deepti broke free with a lofted six off Delmi Tucker over long-on, while the newcomer also showed her skills with back-to-back boundaries off Marizanne Kapp to revive India's fortunes.
The duo's partnership of 76 was also the fourth highest partnership for the sixth wicket in women's T20Is.
Deepti returned to cast her magic with the ball when she had Laura Wolvaardt caught of her own bowling in her fourth ball.
The other opener Anneke Bosch fell to Rajeshwari Gayakwad as India, with six spin-bowling options, made merry on the dry surface. Making her T20I comeback after more than a year, Marizanne looked in control in a run-a-ball 22 and played both spin and pace without any fuss.
She along with skipper Sune added 27 runs off 35 balls but only to be dismissed by leg-spinner Vaidya with a tossed-up delivery.
Sune, who was their top-scorer with 29 from 30 balls, then became victim of a run out in a mix-up with Chloe Tryon (26), who was trapped LBW by Radha Yadav as South Africa slumped to 103 for 6.
The target seemed improbable from thereon with 45 runs needed from 20 balls as Deepti stymied the home team's chase to hand India an easy victory in the end.
India will next face the West Indies on Monday.
India Women: 147 for 6 in 20 overs (Amanjot Kaur 41 not out, Yastika Bhatia 35, Deepti Sharma 33; Nonkululeko Mlaba 2/15) beat South Africa Women 120 for 9 in 20 overs (Sune Luus 29, Chloe Tryon 26, Marizanne Kapp 22; Deepti 3/30, Devika Vaidya 2/19). India won by 27 runs.