Deepti Sharma, the sunshine in the rain

The second T20I between India and South Africa women was abandoned due to rain but fans couldn’t stop discussing Deepti Sharma.

Deepti Sharma (left) and Mansi Joshi in a relaxed mood as rain stopped play between India and South Africa in Surat on Thursday.   -  Vijay Soneji

Though the second T20I between India and South Africa women was abandoned due to persistent rain at the Lalabhai Contractor Stadium on Thursday, a couple of Suratis were discussing Deepti Sharma.

The spinner was referred to as “sanasanatibharya (sensational)” for her effort in the series opener.

For a spinner to leave such an impression in a T20 game is rare. But with the kind of outing the all-rounder had — especially with her loopy off-breaks — it isn’t surprising to hear the fans being spellbound.

More than her three scalps that rattled the Proteas, the highlight of her spell that read 4-3-8-3 was the number in the second column. The Agra girl was so accurate that she became the first Indian cricketer to bowl three maiden overs in a T20I.

The first runs she conceded were off her 19th ball, when she was bowling the penultimate over of the match.

While she is used to doing all the talking with the bat and ball on the field, Deepti is a woman of few words off the pitch.

“Deepti is now an experienced player. She understands how to bowl when. She reads the track pretty quickly. Her four overs were pretty crucial for us. She creating pressure helped other bowlers,” her captain Harmanpreet Kaur said after Tuesday’s narrow win.

While she was miserly with the ball, her 46-run partnership — the highest of the match — with Harmanpreet also emerged as one of the key factors in giving India the lead in the five-match series.

Having been in the international arena for five years, Deepti still remains one the most under-rated and under-utilised cricketers in India’s dressing room.

Post a decent outing in the Kia Super League — her first overseas league appearance — Deepti has climbed another level with the performance against South Africa.

Perhaps by the end of the ongoing series, she will be valued more, on and off the field.