Visakhapatnam : All-round performance by India helped them in defeating South Africa by 48 runs in the third T20I of five-match series at Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday.
India have opened their account in the five-match T20I series with this win in the do-or-die clash. With the series still 2-1 in favour of the visitors, the fourth T20I will be played on Friday at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Gujarat. Batting first, a 97-run stand between Ruturaj Gaikwad (57) and Ishan Kishan (54) powered India to 179/5 in their allotted 20 overs. The first innings was a see-saw one as India dominated the first half of the innings, but South Africa pulled back momentum to their side in the other half.
In reply, the Proteas never looked like going as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals and in the end were bundled out for 131 with five balls still to play. For Men in Blue, Yuzvendra Chahal and Harshal Patel starred with the ball as they bagged three and four wickets respectively to derail the visitors' chase. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Axar Patel scalped one wicket apiece.
Chasing 180, South Africa endured a bad start as they lost two wickets for just 28 runs inside the first six overs. Axar Patel took the wicket of SA skipper Temba Bavuma in the fourth over before Harshal Patel got the better of Reeza Hendricks on the last ball of the powerplay.
Yuzvendra Chahal then joined the wicket-taking party in the middle overs as he broke the spine of the visitors' batting order. The spinner removed Rassie van der Dussen for his first wicket of the match in the seventh over before getting the better of Dwaine Pretorius in the ninth.
At halfway mark in the innings, SA were 63/4 with 117 runs still required from the last ten overs of the chase. The uphill battle for visitors got tougher when Chahal struck to remove dangerous-looking Heinrich Klaasen for 29 in 15th over.
Harshal Patel struck in the 17th and last over of the match while Bhuvneshwar Kumar bagged one wicket and forced the other in the penultimate over to bundle out SA for 131 with five balls still to play.
Earlier, Put to bat first by South Africa, India was off a fine start. The first four overs saw openers Ishan Kishan and Ruturaj Gaikwad were somewhat cautious and rotated the strike with quick running between wickets with some occasional hits.
But Gaikwad preyed on dangerous pacer Anrich Nortje in the fifth over, hitting him for five fours in a row, bringing plenty of momentum to the innings.
By the end of powerplay in six overs, India stood at a great 57/0, with Gaikwad (40*) and Kishan (13*) at the crease.
Gaikwad continued to look good and soon brought up his maiden T20I half-century in 30 balls. Ishan Kishan also continued showing his aggressive intent with the bat, combining it with some good strike rotation.
The Proteas got a breakthrough at the final ball of the 10th over, dismissing Gaikwad for 57 off 35. Spinner Keshav Maharaj caught and bowled the opener by taking a great diving catch.
At the end of 10 overs, India stood at 971, with Kishan (36*). This brought Shreyas Iyer to the crease. He smashed Nortje for a huge six in the 11th over to get off the mark. Kishan continued dominating Proteas bowlers, hitting Maharaj for 4,6,4 in the final three balls of the 12th over to bring up his second fifty of the series off just 30 balls.
Iyer survived a leg before wicket attempt off-spinner Tabrez Shamsi's delivery in the 13th over. However, Proteas staged a mini-comeback by taking his wicket two balls later for 14 off 11.
This brought captain Rishabh Pant to the crease. Pretorius got Kishan for 54 of 35, getting his side second wicket in two overs. Kishan tried to play it big over deep extra cover but was caught by Reeza Hendricks. This brought the vice-captain, Hardik Pandya, to the crease.
At the end of 15 overs, India stood at 138/3 with Pandya (4*) and Pant (4*). Captain Pant registered another failure in his outing as a skipper, getting out for only 6 off a Pretorious delivery after being caught by SA skipper Temba Bavuma.
At 143/4, India seemed to have lost quite a lot of momentum gathered in the first ten overs. Dinesh Karthik was up next to bat. He could not replicate his finishing mode from the last game and was sent back for just 6 by Kagiso Rabada after being caught by Wayne Parnell at third man.
With some hits from Pandya (31*) and new batter Axar Patel (5*), India finished the innings at 179/5 in their 20 overs. Dwaine Pretorius was the leading bowler for South Africa, with 2/29 in four overs. Rabada, Shamsi and Maharaj also got a wicket each.
Brief Scores: India 179/5 in 20 overs (Ruturaj Gaikwad 57, Ishan Kishan 54, Dwaine Pretorius 2/29) vs South Africa (Heinrich Klaasen 29, Reeza Hendricks 23; Harshal Patel 4-25).