South Africa vs India 2018: Manish Pandey and MS Dhoni dazzle Centurion with dynamic partnership
For a considerable period of time, it appeared as if India would totter to a middling total during an engrossing phase in the second T20I against South Africa. However, Manish Pandey and MS Dhoni joined hands to produce a dazzling partnership which lifted the visitors to a formidable total in Centurion.
From a precarious position of 90/4 in the eleventh over, Pandey and Dhoni added 98 runs for the fifth wicket and hauled India to 188. While the 28-year old kept the scoreboard ticking in his enterprising 48-ball 79, the experienced wicket-keeper batsman rolled back the clock by producing an aggressive 52 from just 28 balls.
Both batsmen remained unbeaten and ensured that their fluent partnership of 98 runs from 56 balls alleviated the pressure applied by the South African bowlers. Their calculated attack not only swelled India's total but also helped seized momentum towards the end of the innings.
Upon being asked to bat first by the hosts, India lost Rohit Sharma early in the game. After a blazing cameo, Shikhar Dhawan threw his wicket away by playing a rather ordinary shot. When skipper Virat Kohli was dismissed as well inside the Power Play overs, South Africa were right on top.
Pandey and Suresh Raina looked to offset the calamitous start by building a proper partnership. When it seemed like they were going strong, the left-hander's ungainly heave ended the fourth wicket stand.
Pandey-Dhoni show lifts India
In order to set the innings up for the more explosive Hardik Pandya later on, India sent in Dhoni at number six. Utilising all his experience, the 36-year old smartly looked to turn over the strike to Pandey as much as possible.
Fancying his chances against the innocuous left-arm spin of Jon-Jon Smuts, Dhoni got into the groove by clearing the straight boundary. Meanwhile, at the other end, Pandey brought up his second half-century in T20Is. At the end of the 15-over mark, India were positioned at 124/4 and ready for the death overs onslaught.
Catch the highlights of Pandey and Dhoni's dynamic partnership here
Pandey made his intentions quite clear by launching Chris Morris over the mid-wicket fence. The South African fielders piled pressure on themselves by conceding a bonus boundary in the form of an overthrow. Junior Dala's death bowling skills were put to the sword by the well-set right-hander.
When the penultimate over began, Dhoni had scored just 24 runs from 19 balls. As often has been the case in recent times, India needed more from him in the closing stages. The veteran delivered this time around. Chris Morris was punished for erring in length on either margin. A dropped catch and the accompanying six made matters all the more easier for the seasoned finisher.
Dane Paterson's lack of experience at the international level showed during the final over of the innings. Instead of hurrying the batsman by going full throttle, his variation in pace was duly dispatched over the cover region.
Dhoni followed up his six off the second ball by plundering consecutive boundaries from the next two deliveries. Although the latter one was a serendipitous inside-edge, he was in a solid position to take advantage of the wayward bowling. The stalwart completed his second fifty in T20Is. The last over of the innings fetched as many as 18 runs.