East London: A dismal batting performance cost Indian team dear as it suffered defeat in yet another summit clash, losing a low-scoring women's Tri-series final to hosts South Africa by five wickets here on Thursday.
Chloe Tryon (57 not out off 32 balls) did exactly what all others failed as she counter-attacked with great gusto, hitting six fours and two sixes, to chase down a meagre 110-run target with two overs to spare.
What made Tryon's innings extra special was the degree of difficulty all other batters encountered due to the slowness of the track.
Indian spinners Deepti Sharma, Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Sneh Rana tried their best to offset a baffling batting approach by Harleen Deol but the target was never a defendable one despite South Africa being reduced to 47 for 4 and subsequently 66 for 5 at start of 14th over.
On a pitch where the ball wasn't coming on to the bat, Tryon did exactly opposite of what Deol did. The Indians paid a hefty price of the huge number of dot balls consumed by Deol.
"Body is fine. It will get better with rest. We have got some good performances. Unfortunately today we were not able to bat the way we wanted and the bowlers did well," India captain Harmanpreet Kaur said later.
Tryon plonked her front-foot and exhibited power hitting of highest order, repeatedly targeting the arc between square leg and mid-wicket.
In the end, the victory came way more easily than one had thought as the stocky Proteas middle-order batter got a lucky six when Pooja Vastrakar dropped a dolly at deep square leg boundary to gift the opposition easy winning runs.
Earlier, Deol's painstaking 46 off 56 balls on a slow track did more harm than good as India managed only 109 despite losing four wickets.
With stylish Smriti Mandhana dismissed for nought and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (21) also back in the dug-out just when she was getting set, Deol's effort was a below par one as she played a huge number of dot balls which increased the pressure on Deepti Sharma (16 not out off 14 balls), who also couldn't do much of the heavy-lifting.
Worse still, there was no effort from India to force the pace and Deol was happy playing the sheet anchor till she lost her wicket in the final over.
For South Africa, left-arm spinner Nonkululeko Mlaba (2/16 in 4 overs) was brilliant in the Powerplay as a frustrated Mandhana was bowled having failed to open her account in previous seven deliveries. She charged down the track and played all over a delivery that disturbed the leg stump.
Other opener Jemimah Rodrigues (11 off 18 balls) and Deol couldn't get off the blocks against Mlaba and seasoned pacer Shabnim Ismail (0/9 in 3 overs).
In between the South African duo, they bowled 25 dot balls with India scoring only 19 runs in six Powerplay overs.
Both Rodrigues and Harmanpreet were out when they were beaten by away turn from Mlaba and leg-spinner Sune Luus with keeper Sinalo Jafta effecting smart stumping.
The ball often didn't come on to the bat and the Indian batters didn't have requisite pace on deliveries to work with.
Such was their plight that the boundary count in 20 overs was not even in double digits. It was just nine. The total dot ball count was 57 (9.3 overs cumulatively) with the most consumed by Deol.