It took India over 154 overs to dismiss South Africa the second time around ©BCCI
Lightning never strikes twice in the same place, but the Indian Women's team will beg to differ. Because, what happened between South Africa's first-innings ruins on the third morning and a quick run-chase on the fourth evening of the Chennai Test can only be best described as just that.

For majority of the 632 minutes elapsed, India had their leg up. Imposing the follow-on on the South Africans, who had conceded a weighty lead after collapsing from 249/4 to 266 all out in their first innings, was a show of that power. It would be 337 runs before India needed to bat again, versus the 10 wickets the hosts needed in just over five sessions on a pitch with variable bounce and turn. For an unchanged spin attack that had bulldozed England and Australia in consecutive games six months ago in similar conditions, this should have been routine.

South Africa, instead, decided to flip the script. There was fight in the first innings as well, when few gave them any chance. But this time Laura Wolvaardt & Co. amped it up manifold to even rekindle hopes of a draw, however briefly.

Sune Luus was the protagonist again, after scoring a dogged 65 in the first innings. That's as much as she had scored in the six matches combined of the white-ball home series against Sri Lanka. The ODIs in India didn't go per the lofty standards she's set for herself either. Admittedly hurt, and determined to do better, Luus strode out to the crease for a second time in under 24 hours with the odds thoroughly stacked against her team.

She joined hands with Wolvaardt in the middle to keep India's attack, led by the two offspinners who had gobbled up all of first-innings wickets between them, at bay for the next 66 overs. The wicket-less second session on Day 3 was a first in the Harmanpreet Kaur captaincy era as Luus and a progressively-improving Wolvaardt stonewalled an accomplished Indian attack in conditions they'd admittedly never experienced before.

"I just enjoyed the level of control and confidence she showed," Baakier Abrahams, team's batting coach, said of Luus' century. "One conversation we had was that she got a score in the first innings but it wasn't a match-defining score. It was always going to be about backing one performance with another and never accepting that I've got a score so I can sit back a little bit. That was the most impressive part of her innings. I think it was a lesson for the rest of the team as well. The moment you get a good performance, make sure you go and back it up with another one. Don't let the gap get too big and allow complacency to set in. These are some of the values these ladies are starting to implement... As a senior player in tough conditions, having to follow on, the mental fortitude she showed was exceptional."

In the 247 minutes of her alliance with Wolvaardt, Luus added record-breaking 190 runs. But more vital than the volume of runs was the trickle-down effect of their resilience that inspired a rearguard act from those who followed.

It started with skipper Wolvaardt herself, who had only scored a shaky 20 in the first innings, and began circumspectly in the second as well until Luus arrived to show the way and the runs began to flow as they wore out the opposition one forward-defence at a time. The skipper held the fort the longest, facing 314 balls en route a maiden red-ball hundred that made her the first South African female with centuries in each of the three formats. But more than any of those milestones, her focus remained on eating away at the time remaining on the clock and not India's lead.

Wolvaardt scored 122 in the follow-on innings
Wolvaardt scored 122 in the follow-on innings ©BCCI
Marizanne Kapp, who had spent 173 minutes batting in heat for the majority of Day 2 with a back that's still recovering, was now battling extreme humidity in her 82-ball 31 across the last two days. That Nadine de Klerk swapped her naturally aggressive instincts for a 165-ball blockathon, fending mostly with the tail, to drag the fight to the final scheduled hour of play showed immense character. Limping ahead of Tea, Sinalo Jafta had not returned to batting immediately after the break due to cramps. South Africa would have been forgiven to err on the side of caution, with the T20I leg of the series yet to be played. The wicketkeeper-batter resumed nonetheless to put her team on the cusp of lead that seemed a far-fetched idea up until that point.

From a 337-run deficit to making India bat again was the next best result possible for South Africa once they had conceded a mammoth 603 to the hosts in under four sessions. South Africa are now only the third team to do so to India, and first since 2006. The tourists had surrendered their final six wickets in just 51 deliveries in their first innings. In the second, it took India 55 overs to get past a resolute lower order that was eager to make a difference, or at least right a few wrongs. Tumi Sekhukhune and Masabata Klaas, played out at least five overs each as de Klerk dug deep to maximise their slender lead.

"On day three, when Sune and I really knuckled down and batted for so long, we sort of knew that we have to bat through two days to get to a draw. So that's just what we tried to do," Wolvaardt said after the game on Monday. "We sort of broke it down into little 20 minute intervals and we said, okay, after 20 minutes, we're going to have a little sip of water. So let's work hard until then. And yeah, it was literally just about taking it one ball at a time and not even looking at the scoreboard just to try and bat for as long as we could.

"Baakier sort of chatted to us at the end of the day and then just gone through what exactly we need to try and do the next day in order to fight for that draw and maybe even get a bit of a lead. Each player was really clear on what they needed to do. And I think you could see that in the way that players like Tumi [Sekhukhune] and [Masabata] Klaas batted on this day compared to the first innings. So yeah, I think we've already learned a lot as a group just in the space of an innings.

"To lose is a bit disappointing, but I think just the character that the group has shown over the last two days was absolutely amazing to see," Wolvaardt, a proud skipper, said on Monday. "To concede 500 and something runs on day one, I don't think many people thought it would get all the way to the last session on Day 4. Just the absolute grit and determination that every single batter had going out there to see it through until the end was amazing. And I think it'll do a lot of good things for this group," she added.

In the distant future, the scorecard of the stray one-off Test will only convey this as a convincing 10-wicket win for India. No closer look will reveal the buckets South Africans sweated in those 604 minutes, the temptations they curbed to adapt to red-ball format on the fly, and the moral victories they earned across the two innings. However, for a country still reeling from one heartache from the Indians, the fightback in Chennai from a different Proteas team was, perhaps, some payback.