Visakhapatnam: Openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ishan Kishan’s quickfire fifties followed by clinical bowling effort by Harshal Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal led India to 48-run win over South Africa in the third T20I and kept them alive in the five-match series at the Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy stadium, here on Tuesday.
Both Ruturaj (57 off 35) and Ishan (54 off 35) played attacking cricket and propelled India to 179/5 in 20 overs. Apart from Gaikwad and Kishan, Hardik Pandya (31 not out off 21) gave final flourish to Indian innings, after being invited to bat first.
Chasing a challenging total, South Africa didn’t have a great start as India skipper Rishabh Pant introduced each of his five frontline bowlers in the powerplay.
The main bowlers didn’t allow Proteas batters to settle into any sort of rhythm, which led to being reduced to 38/2 with Axar Patel getting Temba Bavuma and Harshal deceiving Reeza Hendrics with the last ball of the fielding restrictions.
During the middle overs, Yuzvendra Chahal varied the pace on his leg spinners and changed his lines cleverly. With some turn on offer, his variety proved to be unhittable as Rassie van der Dussen and Dwaine Pretorius (20) were smartly caught behind by Pant to balls that turned sharply across them while they were camped on the backfoot.
Heinrich Klaasen (29), the hero of the last game, fell to a floater outside off bowled by Chahal which spun away and drew the mishit skier. At the other end, Harshal produced the defining ball of the middle phase when his slower ball dismissed David Miller for the first time in five T20 innings.
At 71/5 in the 11th over, the chase was put beyond South Africa, who continued to try harder. Harshal then picked the wickets of Kagiso Rabada and Tabraiz Shamsi to dismiss the visitor’s hope and eventually bowled out South Africa for 131/10 in 19.1 overs.
Earlier, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ishan Kishan put on 97 in 10 overs for the opening wicket, 57 of them coming in the PowerPlay. It was Gaikwad who played the aggressor in the first part of that partnership, hitting five fours off Anrich Nortje’s first over – the fifth of the match – to purr the innings along.
Gaikwad got to his maiden international fifty off just 30 balls before turning it over to Kishan who used his match-up advantage against South Africa’s pair of left-arm spinners. Two fours and a six off Maharaj brought him a 31-ball 50.
However after hitting 126/1 in the first 73 balls of the innings, India managed only 53/4 through their final 7.5 overs of the innings. South Africa’s seamers, Pretorius in particular, came back well and used the wide lines and strategically placed sweeper fielders to good effect.
India got a bit of a finishing kick from Hardik Pandya, who finished with a 21-ball 31 not out and took India to what eventually proved to be more than enough on the night.
Brief scores: India 179/5 in 20 overs (Ruturaj Gaikwad 57, Ishan Kishan 54; Dwaine Pretorius 2-29) beat South Africa 131 in 19.1 overs (Heinrich Klaasen 29; Harshal Patel 4-25, Yuzvendra Chahal 3-20) by 48 runs.