1st T20I Duminy steals the thunder from Rohit as South Africa beat India
The holy city of Dharamsala proved to be lucky for the visitors instead of the hosts as a spirited JP Duminy carried South Africa’s stiff chase and en route a 7-wicket win stole the thunder from Rohit Sharma’s maiden T20 international century on Saturday.
Duminy’s 68* off 34, including seven sixes, and his 105-run unbeaten partnership with Farhan Behardien (32* off 23) put paid to India’s hopes that were quite high after Rohit’s 106 lifted them to a dominating 199 for 5. But there was also a mini run-limiting comeback by the South African bowlers which pulled India back by at least 10 runs and in the end proved to be the difference.
India were looking good to put on the brakes once R Ashwin cut short the AB de Villiers threat, though he did provide the impetus South Africa’s chase needed with his 32-ball 51. Debutant medium-pacer S Aravind struck almost immediately after to knock over skipper Faf du Plessis (4), but Man-of-the-Match Duminy looted Axar Patel with three consecutive sixes in the 16th over, which is where the momentum shifted with 22 runs in 6 balls.
Ashwin was the only noted contributor in India’s bowling chart with figures of 1 for 26. All others went for 10 runs an over or above.
But India must rue a couple of LBW decisions against Duminy that could have gone in their favour.
“We did not have quite a few decisions going our way and sometimes these can change the match. If you could have got Duminy early, it could have been different. He played brilliant cricket later on,” India captain MS Dhoni said after the match.
The late-evening dew at Dharamsala also seemed to have contributed to India’s bowling woes, which is why Du Plessis had no hesitation in deciding to bowl after winning the toss that was done with a specially minted coin to honour Mahatama Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.
Rohit batted like a dream to become only the second Indian after Suresh Raina to score a century in every format. But he lost his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan cheaply when the pair paid dearly for running off a misfield. The left-hander was run out for 4.
Rohit, when on 24, was dropped by Marchant De Lange off a half-chance on a return catch but other than that gave the Proteas little room to breathe during his 66-ball stay that included 12 fours and 5 sixes.
Virat Kohli played an intelligent role in his 132-run partnership with Rohit, allowing his partner to have most of the strike. Kohli, who also completed 1000 T20I runs during his knock, made 43 off 27 before being dismissed by Abbott. By then India had posted 160 for 2 in the 16th over and were on course for 200.
But Abbott dismissed Rohit in the same over to get SA back in the game. And when Raina (14) and Ambati Rayudu (run out for a duck) too failed to get going, India’s hopes of reaching 200 took a serious hit.
It was only due to MS Dhoni’s (20* off 12) six off the last ball of the innings that India managed to set a target of 200.Abbott was the most successful of visiting bowlers with figures of 2 for 29.In reply, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers got off like a fast train raising South Africa’s 50 in just 4.2 overs and reaching 60/0 by the end of Powerplay. And by the time India got the first breakthrough, when Bhuvneshwar Kumar ran Amla out for 36, the chase was nicely set up.
Ashwin’s introduction made run-making a touch difficult for the Proteas, but it seems they had strategies working nicely as, barring De Villiers, they looked to play out the Indian offspinner.
De Villiers became victim of Ashwin’s guile who varied his pace nicely to go on to disturb the South African dasher’s stump as he attempted to step out. Aravind then celebrated his first wicket in international cricket by bowling out Du Plessis.
But Duminy and Behardien paced their partnership nicely and didn’t take much time before opening their shoulders to keep abreast with the asking rate. The left-hander chose the right bowler in Patel to get the prolific over his team was eyeing.
A hat-trick of sixes off the Indian left-arm spinner got Duminy to his fifty in 28 balls and shift the momentum South Africa’s way.
Needing to defend 10 off the last over, Dhoni only had the inexperienced Aravind’s over at his disposal, but the medium-pacer failed to produce a Joginder Sharma moment from 2007 as the South African pair reached the target with two balls to spare.
The defeat has put India in a must-win situation in the three-match series. The second game is scheduled for October 5 in Cuttack.