South Africa 212 for 3 (van der Dussen 75*, Miller 64*) beat India 211 for 4 (Kishan 76, Shreyas 36, Parnell 1-32) with seven wickets
India is said to have imagined their chances after taking advantage of some early luck to post their highest total against South Africa – 211 for 4 – and highest T20I total at Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium. Their batters were particularly strict against South Africa’s two spinners. Keshav Maharaj, who opened the bowling, and Tabraiz Shamsi bowled a total of five overs and conceded 70 runs between them, with Maharaj finishing with his most expensive T20I figures of 1 for 43.
But in response, South Africa played the power play to perfection, scoring 61 runs in the first six overs. They lost Captain Temba Bavuma and Pretorius, but the latter’s cameo provided the middle order to finish it off. Although Van der Dussen usually had a cautious start and the required run rate grew to over 14 one over at one point, Miller kept South Africa on the hunt for the first half of the partnership. The duo faced off against the Indian pace bowlers in the end, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Harshal Patel giving up 86 runs in their 8 overs.
Kishan turns uncertain start into smashing finish
Kishan missed three of his first four limits and played the wrong line to almost everything else, while India seemed to struggle despite the runs on the board. His opening partner, Ruturaj Gaikwad, also didn’t hit the ball neatly. He came out on top of Anrich Nortje on a short, fine leg, but after India stacked 36 runs in five overs and survived Wayne Parnell’s first quite disciplined over, things changed.
Kishan showed his touch when he dabbed Nortje behind the third man and then smoked a drive through the covers to close the power play with India 51 without a loss. From there he was unstoppable. He beat the short ball, advanced across the court to hit Shamsi six times, then punched Maharaj through the leg side for 20 runs off four balls before successfully judging an lbw call.
South Africa committed four errors, two of which were costly. The first came right after the power play when Gaikwad pulled a hip-high short from Parnell to Pretorius with the long leg. He hit it hard, but straight at Pretorius, who couldn’t hold it because the ball burst through his hands for six hours. Gaikwad was sent off on the next ball.
And three balls after that, Kishan slog-sweep to midwicket where Maharaj, van der Dussen, debutant Tristan Stubbs and Shamsi all converged, but the ball fell between them. Kishan was at 52 and added 24 to his score, the most of Maharaj. The next ball there was a chance to outplay Rishabh Pant to a duck at the non-striker’s end, when he was about to take flight but collided with Rabada. Stubbs lobed the ball back up over the fielder at that end. Pant hit a 16-ball 29.
In a surprise move, South Africa chose to move Pretorius to number 3 instead of Miller or Stubbs when Bavuma was fired in the third, but a little digging revealed there was a method for what seemed madness. Pretorius has batted to No. 3 ten times before in his T20 career, and once in an international, when he scored his best 77* of his career. He punched the second ball he encountered through the covers for four, then swept the fifth for six to suggest what he could do, then took three sixes from Hardik Pandya to confirm. Pretorius swung hard and got the short, full and long ball over the leg side before Harshal broke through his defense with a slower ball and took off from the stump.
de Kock fired and the pressure is mounting
de Kock hollowed out to Kishan on Axar Patel’s square leg, with South Africa’s required rate above 11 per over, then India applied the squeeze. Between Axar, Avesh Khan and Harshal, they threw 18 borderless deliveries, pushing South Africa’s required speed above 14 per over.
van der Dussen switches over
Miller was expected to be the batter to keep South Africa in the game – given his impressive IPL – and he did. He broke the border drought with 10 runs on the last two balls of Harshal’s second left, then hit Axar for a six in the third tier of the stands.
But van der Dussen, often criticized for his low score, couldn’t get the ball away as regularly until he broke the toe of his bat and had to exchange it for another. With the new bat, he hit Avesh over the head four times from a no-ball, then sent him straight into the deep midwicket, but Shreyas missed an easy chance. van der Dussen was on 29 from 30 balls at the time, then looted 22 runs from Harshal’s third left, including sending two full throws for fifty-six mustering the 39th ball he encountered with a six over deep square leg. He reduced the requirement to 34 from the last three overs and then 12 from the last two before surviving an lbw rating to hit the winning runs in the first ball of the last over.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South African correspondent