DHARAMSHALA: JP Duminy launched an all-out attack on the Indian bowlers with an unbeaten 68 that got South Africa to chase down a daunting 200-run target and take a 1-0 lead in the three-match T20 series against India. Duminy’s 34-ball innings was laced with seven sixes and it did enough to overshadow Rohit Sharma’s maiden T20 hundred as South Africa got home by seven wickets.
200 in 20 overs on any given day is a stiff target to chase down. But South Africa were always in the hunt mostly because of two reasons – the length of the ground and dew.
AB de Villiers and Amla raced South Africa to 72 runs in seven overs. If at one end, Amla looked smooth, de Villiers took just two balls before drilling debutant Sreenath Aravind down the ground for six. The openers got to 30 in three overs which forced Dhoni to get Mohit Sharma into the attack.
De Villiers was finding the middle of his bat to everything. His back-to-back fours of Mohit Sharma and another two off Aravind in the next over were ominous signs for India. Dhoni might have missed a trick by not introducing either Ravichandran Ashwin or Axar Patel a little early when the batsmen were motoring alone. Once he did, results started to show.
Like India, South Africa too lost their first wicket to a run out. Amla, not the quickest between wickets was found short of his crease while attempting a second run. At 77 for 1, South Africa had two of their best batsmen out there in de Villiers and Faf du Plessis.
De Villiers’ half-century came off 31 balls before he became Ashwin’s first wicket off the next. The ball brushed his back thigh and deflected on to the stumps as the HPCA stadium erupted like never before.
India had the edge, but JP Duminy and Farhan Behardien had other plans. Just when South Africa’s scoring rate was beginning to dip, then came the over which turned the game on its head. Axar was taken for 22 runs in the 16th over, in which Duminy larupped him for three sixes on the trot. Aravind bowling the final over was hammered for a six, after which a single got South Africa the win
Earlier, Rohit’s 62-ball century set South Africa a formidable target at the HPCA stadium. Shortly after former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar had deemed the stadium his best in the world, the Indian opener added more laurels to the stadium with one of the most brutal innings ever witnessed in this format.
Rohit tore apart the so-called ‘fearsome’ South African attack to pieces. The South Africans opted for the short-ball technique, but the batsman revelled against their ploy, almost murdering anything that was even relatively targeted towards his upper body.
Virat Kohli had the best seat in the house to witness what transpired out of his partner’s bat. Rohit and Kohli’s alliance saw India scoring 138 runs for the second wicket, and even though both fell in successive overs, the damage was already done. The only chance Rohit survived was a caught and bowled off Merchant de Lange when he was on 24. Kohli, who chipped with 43 completed 1000 runs in T20Is as the pair took both South medium-pacers as well as spinners to the cleaners.
Faf du Plessis handed the ball to his No. 1 bower Imran Tahir, in a hope of containing the run flow, let alone getting a wicket. But even he wasn’t spared – Rohit and Kohli took him for three sixes in the 12th over. Rohit went into overdrive in the next over off Rabada dispatching him over the fence a twice more before reaching the three figure mark with a straight six off de Lange.
His dismissal came with a Rohit’s mis-hit pull. Suresh Raina quickly sent a couple of balls into the stands before falling leg before to Morris. Dhoni seemed to struggle middling the ball at the other end, but finally managed to do so with a six off the last ball of the innings.