South Africa vs India 2018, 1st T20I: Bhuvneshwar Kumar's stunning spell is SK Turning Point of the match
Extending their dominance from the recently completed ODI series, an in-form Indian team overpowered South Africa by 28 runs in the opening T20I at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg.
Batting first, India relied on Shikhar Dhawan's sublime 39-ball 72 to compile a strong total on a rather docile track. Chasing 204, South Africa's pursuit was derailed by Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Returning to the playing eleven after being rested in the final ODI, Bhuvneshwar registered figures of 5/24 and became the first Indian bowler to pick a five-wicket haul in all three formats of the game. After denting the Proteas with a double blow in his first spell, the 28-year old returned in the business stages of the game and obtained three more decisive scalps.
Bhuvneshwar strikes twice with new-ball
South Africa began their run-chase in a promising manner as the opening duo of Jon-Jon Smuts and Reeza Hendricks plundered four boundaries and a six from the first 15 balls of the innings. Coming under the line of fire, India's new-ball bowlers found themselves under immediate pressure.
Catch the highlights of Bhuvneshwar Kumar's five-wicket haul here
Bhuvneshwar provided some relief for the visitors by removing Smuts with a slower delivery. The right-arm seamer's smart change of pace prevented the opener from generating momentum on his attempted flick shot. As the leading edge went high into the sky, Dhawan completed a tricky catch.
South Africa's skipper JP Duminy arrived at the crease. Clearly out of form, the experienced left-hander struggled to time the ball. Bhuvneshwar coerced him to play a wild hoick across the line. Comeback man Suresh Raina made a difficult catch look pretty straightforward.
Hendricks leads South Africa's fightback
38/2 soon became 48/3 when Hardik Pandya accounted for David Miller. With 156 more runs required from 82 further deliveries, the Proteas needed a partnership to get them back on track. Hendricks found a suitable ally in Farhaan Behardien and looked to infuse some energy into the innings.
Playing just his 10th T20I, Hendricks showed tremendous composure. He minimised the dot balls and kept the scoreboard ticking by manoeuvring the field. Whenever a loose ball was on offer, the dynamic right-hander ensured that he was in the right position to capitalise.
Meanwhile, Behardien took the attack to Yuzvendra Chahal. Realising that he could not allow the leg-spinner to find his rhythm, the 34-year old kept him guessing by using his feet as well as unfurling fancy shots.
When a threatening partnership seemed to be blossoming, the leg-spinner once again provided the breakthrough for India. Behardien was sent back for a 27-ball 39 and a vital 81-run partnership was broken before growing further.
Bhuvi's four-wicket over seals Indian victory
At the end of the 17th over, the equation came down to 50 runs from 18 balls. With a well-set Hendricks and the dangerous Heinrich Klaasen in the thick of things, the Proteas would have fancied their chances. However, what followed was utter carnage as one impactful over effectively ended their chances in the contest.
Bhuvneshwar returned to the attack in order to deliver his final over of the game. He struck off the very first ball by landing the important scalp of Hendricks. A slower leg-cutter, delivered comfortably outside the off-stump, did not allow the batsman from finding the middle of the blade. MS Dhoni safely pouched the leading edge.
A couple of balls later, Klaasen gifted India with his wicket by failing to get underneath a fuller delivery. When Chris Morris swatted a slower one right towards his vicinity, Raina secured his second catch in as many balls. Bhuvneshwar Kumar had pocketed his maiden five-wicket haul in T20Is.
The game-changing 18th over turned into a calamitous one for South Africa as Dane Paterson ran himself out whilst attempting a non-existent second run. The rattled Proteas proceeded to limp towards a meek defeat.