India 169 for 6 (Karthik 55, Hardik 46, Ngidi 2-20) beat South Africa 87 (Avesh 4-18, Chahal 2-21) with 82 runs
It has taken him 16 years and 36 matches, but finally he has his first half century in the format. And he scored it in India’s biggest win over South Africa and fifth-biggest in T20Is, to tie the series 2-2 for Sunday’s final.
We haven’t seen him play competitively since March, and not in a T20I since July of last year, and it was worth the wait. Lungi Ngidi looks fitter than before and has been working on his variations. In his first four throws (not counting the wide he started with), he sent a short ball, an inswinger and two slower balls before making a mistake with a halftracker that hit Ruturaj Gaikwad behind the point for four. Ngidi immediately adapted and sent a back-length ball that seamed away from Gaikwad, who went off.
His next over was punctuated with changes in length and pace and a demonstration of complete dedication as he handled a drive from Ishan Kishan with his foot. Ngidi finished the over, but left the field and returned later in the innings to deliver an over on death, which ended up being the cheapest of the last three. He threw the 19th and was pulled to square leg by Hardik for six, before Hardik brought him to the deep back point where Tabraiz Shamsi took a blast. Ngidi conceded one limit from Karthik’s bat, but pulled it back to finish with a 2 for 20 return in three overs.
Pants are (not) on fire
It has not been a good run for Rishabh Pant with the bat so far and, apart from the lack of runs, he may be concerned about the way he got out. In three of his four innings, Pant was rejected for wide deliveries outside the stump, deliveries that could have been called wide had he left them alone. On this occasion, Pant got down on one knee to sweep a slower Keshav Maharaj ball over the third man. He was early on and the ball flew to Dwaine Pretorius on short third man, strategically placed for just that. Maharaj celebrated as if a plan had worked, because it had worked.
Bavuma’s body is blowing
Like his counterpart, Bavuma has also failed to see the runs flow, but his night ended worse than Pant’s as he had to stop hurt for his collective lowest score of the series to date, 8. Bhuvneshwar Kumar started off as he usually does, by moving the ball in either direction, but he also caused the ball to burst upward from a length, surprising Bavuma, then holding it low. In his second over, after Bavuma was tricked again by one that stayed low, Bhuvneshwar’s third throw mounted and hit Bavuma on the left upper arm.
He received treatment on the pitch and decided to continue, which seemed like a sensible idea when he put in a drive through the offside two balls later. But at the end of that over, Bavuma ran on for a risky single and dove to take his ground. His arm touched the turf, but he kept going. He had one more ball to deal with before he needed attention on the field. It seemed as if Bavuma and the medical staff were discussing how comfortably he could hold the bat and whether he could generate power to hit the ball. Bavuma decided not to continue and left the field. He was seen wearing an ice pack in the locker room shortly afterwards. Later in the innings, Marco Jansen was hit behind the ear by a bouncer by Avesh, and while passing his concussion test, he was sent off on the next ball.
Chahal v Klaasen
In the first two T20I encounters between Heinrich Klaasen and Yuzvendra Chahal, at Centurion in 2018 and Cuttack last week, Klaasen scored 71 runs off 25 balls. But in their next two encounters, Klaasen has only nine runs on nine balls from Chahal and has been sent off twice. So what happened? Well, the surfaces in Visakhapatnam and Rajkot helped spinners and Klaasen tried to attack Chahal outside, without success. In the previous game he took a full throw to try and clear the offside and sent it to extra cover and in this one Klaasen expected the ball to spin away from him, just like the previous throw, and ready for the sweep, but the ball went straight and hit him on the front pad. He judged but reps showed it would hit a leg stump. Klaasen’s dismissal left South Africa 45 to 3 and led to the collapse that cost them the match.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South African correspondent