South Africa vs India, 2018: The first T20I game as it happened.
On the back of a dominant 5-1 ODI series win, India entered the final leg of their tour of South Africa –the KFC T20I series– at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. While the visitors came into the series high on confidence, with almost an aura of invincibility, the Proteas were looking to redeem themselves in the shortest format in front of their home fans after a string of embarrassing displays in the ODI series.
Put to bat by the South African captain JP Duminy, India’s batting approach was aggressive from the word ‘go’. Looking to post a big total on a ground where chasing sides are tipped to win games more often than not, India was off to a lightening start, courtesy Rohit Sharma. The opener began his onslaught by smashing two sixes and a four off Dane Paterson in the opening over, adding up 18 runs for the first over. However, debutant Junior Dala picked his first international wicket while Rohit tried to ramp it behind towards the third man region, only to the edge the ball to wicket-keeper Heinrich Klaasen.
Making a comeback to the side at No. 3, Suresh Raina smashed a six off the penultimate ball of the 3rd over and was lucky enough when he mistimed the last ball over mid-off and Farhaan Behardien dropped a tough catch. Donning the Indian colors after a year, Raina’s hasty innings came to a close at the end of the fourth over when his bat took the leading edge when attempting a hoick over mid-wicket as Dala completed the catch off his own bowling, leaving the guests at 49/2.
Virat Kohli and Kohli Dhawan were left with the responsibility, yet again, of stabilizing the innings and amassing runs. While Dala threatened the Indian attack by picking Rohit and Raina in his first and second over respectively, Kohli started off with a crashing boundary through the covers in the debutant's third over. Dhawan continued the momentum, hooked a short ball for a six and drove the last delivery through the point for a four to dent the morale of the debutant bowler.
South Africa’s sloppy fielding continued with Behardien dropping a sitter at long-on when Kohli was on 10. With his skipper playing a supportive role, Dhawan breezed his way into the 40s by the 9th over.
The Kohli-Dhawan duo built a partnership of 59 runs from just 33 balls before it was broken by chinaman Tabraiz Shamsi, bowling a quicker delivery with an extra bounce to trap Kohli leg before in the 10th over. The in-form Indian skipper walked back to the pavilion for just 26.
Manish Pandey and Dhawan hammered the ball around the park scoring 47 runs between them. Dhawan, who brought up his 4th T20I half-century in just 27 balls, was deceived by a slower delivery in the 15th over from Phehlukwayo. His blitzkrieg ended at 72 giving, an easy catch to the wicket-keeper while trying to scoop the ball towards fine leg.
Morris came in at the 19th over to bowl out Dhoni who walked across and missed a full delivery. The new batsman Pandya scored consecutive boundaries in an attempt to reinvigorate the run rate. Pandey and Pandya batted through the last two overs while the South African death bowlers contained well to restrict the Indians to 203/5.
With a 200+ target to chase, South Africa’s JJ Smuts gave a perfect start to the innings by cutting a wide delivery from Bhuvneshwar Kumar through the point region for a four. Jaydev Unadkat gave away three fours in the second over and the run rate escalated to above 9 per over. Just when the openers were scoring quick runs, a slower delivery from Bhuvaneshwar changed the course of the innings. Dhawan caught a leading edge from Smuts at square leg to leave South Africa at 29/1. Bhuvaneshwar provided another breakthrough when he foxed the Proteas skipper Duminy with a slower ball to hit it over midwicket. Raina running back from midwicket took a stunning catch to give Bhuvi his second wicket. The asking rate had escalated to 11.06 runs per over.
To worsen things, Bumrah was introduced into the attack in the 6th over and bowled an impressive over by giving away just 3 runs. Pandya was welcomed in the 7th over with a six off a leading edge in the first ball. Bumrah took a jump to pull the ball and save six runs for his team, but unfortunately he had stepped on the boundary line before the jump. Pandya made a comeback in the third ball by using the same mantra- the slower delivery. Miller was deceived and the ball landed in the safe hands of Dhawan.
Behardien joined hands with Hendriques for a 4th wicket partnership. The duo mercilessly dominated the Indian bowlers for the next 6 overs, whipping 31 runs off Yuzvendra Chahal in his 3 overs. Hendricks brought up his maiden T20I fifty off 37 balls in the 13th over in the course of reducing the asking run-rate.
After building a partnership of 81 runs from 52 balls, Behardien fell prey to Chahal in the final delivery of his spell. The ball did not hit the sweet spot, went in the air and Pandey ran in from long-on to take a catch to end Behardien’s innings at 39. Despite leaking 39 runs from 4 overs, Chahal provided the much-needed breakthrough for India.
Klaasen and Hendricks rotated strike while scoring occasional boundaries before Bhuvi grabbed the wicket of Hendricks by bowling a tricky leg cutter in the first ball of his final over. Hendricks skied the ball that was caught by wicketkeeper Dhoni. Bhuvi continued to be on fire by picking two wickets in the two consecutive balls. He bowled a full-length delivery to Klaasen who hit the ball straight to Raina at long-on while Chris Morris was out for a golden duck after walking in at no.8 by hitting the ball to Raina, helping the Uttar Pradesh man complete a five-wicket haul.
India roared towards victory by running out Paterson who was looking for a second run. Pandya’s quick throw earned India its 4th wicket in the 18th over. Unadkat came back in the last over looking to finish off things for India. He got a consolatory wicket in the 4th ball when Phehlukwayo sliced the ball to Chahal in the covers. Proteas ended their innings at 175/9 as India continued to stangle the hosts to another defeat.
Indians have continued their red-hot form at South Africa, dominating the home team in all departments. The major takeaways from this match are Bhuvi’s five-wicket haul, Rohit Sharma’s fearless power hitting right from the first ball, Shikhar Dhawan’s half century, a brace on debut for the uncanny Junior Dala and Reeza Hendricks’ knock . Duminy’s men will have to work on their flaws before they take on India at the 2nd T20I at Centurion on Wednesday.