India is making a habit of losing their first games and making a comeback. Don’t know if the cautious Rahul Dravid is a fan of this approach, but this is becoming a trend for India, a very nerve-wracking trend, though. India was better than South Africa in the third match, but yesterday South Africa just played some real amateur Cricket. It was thanks to Dinesh Karthik, Avesh Khan and a few others, which let India win, despite some questionable captaincy.
First Innings: Karthik 55(27) fires India to 169/6 in 20 overs
India started without changing its openers. Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ishan Kishan were both coming from their half-centuries in the previous match. They started with caution this time around. Things were looking stable for India, but Ruturaj fell prey to Ngidi’s outswinger in the final ball of the second over. Shreyas Iyer came out next. The right-hander was soon sent back after 6 balls.
Captain Rishabh Pant came on to stitch an innings-building partnership. Pant failed to connect his bat to most of the deliveries, often getting beaten by variable bounce. This put additional pressure on Ishan Kishan. In search of the runs, Ishan tried to drive the bowl towards the third man, but the extra bounce did him in.
India was left hanging at 40/3 just after the powerplay. Hardik Pandya came in. Pant and Pandya took their time and played with concentration. Pandya slowly got a grasp of the pitch and started his attack by banging two screamers to the Tabraiz Shamsi in the 12th over. India looked all set to accelerate. Pant, perhaps inspired by Hardik, started to swing his willow wildly, but that ended being suicidal. Keshav Maharaj spun upon a clever top-spin which edged Pant’s willow converting to a high fly-ball to the third man.
The man who came next was Dinesh Karthik. Karthik was a fan-favourite in the series. After a string of spectacular finishes for RCB in the IPL, the 36-year-old was summoned back to the T20I side. With 7 overs remaining and a lot of work still left, he had to be the one to do it today.
Karthik played a couple of dots to assess the situation. Then he took over the role of the enforcer from Pandya. Karthik toyed with the field, hitting boundaries at ease. Hardik kept his wicket at the other end, enjoying DK at his Carnage mode. DK lashed out boundaries to every bowler who came to the party.
Hardik Pandya too joined the show but was dismissed at 46 after Tabraiz Shamsi caught a brilliant catch near the boundary.
Karthik, however, went on with the show and got to his maiden T20I fifty in style. However, he was dismissed on the very next ball.
India finished their innings with a score of 169 for the loss of six wickets in 20 overs.
Second Innings: Avesh Khan 4-18 knocks South Africa for 87 all out in 16.5 overs
South Africa started out in a similar fashion, with QDK playing as an aggressor while Bavuma rotated the strike. It was at the third over when South Africa’s smooth sailing was halted. Bhuvneshwar Kumar used the unpredictable bounce of the Rajkot pitch and combined it with his innate ability to swing the ball. This would have been defended by any other batsman, but a dwarfish Tenma Bavuma found the ball hitting his shoulder.
The next thing we know, Bavuma changed his approach. He appeared too hasty and uncomfortable on the crease. After the over, he was examined by the physios. Bavuma decided to stick around with a taping on his elbow but soon had a change of heart and went back as retired hurt.
Dwaine Pretorius replaced him.
In the fifth ball of the fifth over, there was a miscommunication between Pretorius and QDK, in which de Kock became a casualty. He was followed soon after by Pretorius, who edged Avesh Khan’s bouncer to the keeper. The heroes of the first and second T20Is, Rassie van der Dussen and Heinrich Klaasen, stitched together a 19-run stand before the latter was castled by a Yuzi Chahal special.
Proteas’ last ray of hope depended on the man-in-the-form, David Miller. Miller started off well, scoring a giant six, but fell prey to Harshal Patel’s tough line, which knocked his off-stump. RvD stayed trying to work out the things with Marco Jansen, but India was too hot to handle. Both the batsmen fell prey to Avesh Khan in the 14th over, both being caught by Ruturaj Gaikwad.
Then after, the Indians played around for a bit before going for the kill and keeping the series alive. DK’s pyrotechnics earned him the Man of the Match. It remains to be seen if India can ride their momentum and grab the series? or will South Africa spring a surprise? Do let us know what’s your pick! That’s all from The Sportsway for now. Hope you read our next one.