Ranchi: Vice-captain Shreyas Iyer struck a magnificent 113 not out while Ishan Kishan slammed a scintillating 93 to give India an emphatic seven-wicket victory over South Africa in the second ODI at JSCA International Stadium on Sunday.
After a late fightback from India on a slow, low pitch meant South Africa were restricted to posting 278/7 in 50 overs despite Aiden Markram and Reeza Hendricks making 79 and 74 respectively, Iyer and Kishan shared a match-winning stand of 161 off 155 balls for the third wicket.
The duo thwarted every challenge in their way, as South Africa were hampered by dew and inability to put a lid on the scoring rate, to square the three-match series 1-1 through their respective career-best knocks.
Chasing a challenging 279, India lost openers Shikhar Dhawan and Shubman Gill in the first ten overs. While Dhawan saw his off-stump uprooted by Wayne Parnell for the second time in as many matches, Gill — with his impressive flicks, and drives — failed to keep the loft down and gave Kagiso Rabada a chance to take a sharp catch off his own bowling.
Iyer was the initial aggressor, punching Parnell for four, before taking a brace of fours off Anrich Nortje — a cut through third man was followed by a glorious cover drive. Kishan stepped up when he pulled Keshav Maharaj over deep mid-wicket for six, before dancing down the pitch twice to smack a brace of sixes in the same region.
Iyer’s onslaught continued when he took two fours off part-timer Aiden Markram and another one off left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin. After the duo reached their fifties on successive deliveries in the 26th over and century of their stand brought up, their carnage over South Africa’s bowlers picked up the pace.
While Iyer picked boundaries against Parnell and Rabada for fun, Kishan was showing his hitting prowess by nailing crunchy pulls and heaves through the leg side off Fortuin, Rabada and Nortje. His phenomenal run ended when he pulled to deep mid-wicket off Fortuin, falling seven short of his maiden century on his home turf off 84 balls, hitting four fours and seven sixes.
Despite being hurt by cramps, Iyer was placing his boundaries with excellent timing — one of which was slapped over extra cover for four off Rabada to give him his second century in the format. Iyer finished off the chase with a four steered in the gap between backward point and short third man, remaining unconquered on 113 off 111 balls, backed by 15 fours. Sanju Samson gave him good support by remaining unbeaten on 30 and sending the series to a decider in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Earlier, Mohammed Siraj picked 3-38 in his ten overs to keep South Africa to a total that was way below what the visitors’ would have liked. Barring a run-a-ball 129-run stand for the third wicket between Markram and Hendricks, South Africa were lacklustre in power-play and death overs, as India controlled the first and last ten overs well.
Siraj made an early breakthrough as Quinton de Kock dragged a full and wide delivery to his stumps. Janneman Malan hit eye-pleasing boundaries, before being trapped lbw to become debutant Shahbaz Ahmed’s first international wicket.
Hendricks and Markram took time to settle in before the duo took a four each off Siraj through the leg-side in a ten-run 16th over. Markram, who survived an lbw shout off Kuldeep, scooped and brought out the drive twice to get three fours in as many overs.
Hendricks, on the other hand, lofted Washington Sundar over mid-off before whipping Shardul Thakur through mid-wicket for a brace of fours. After a magnificent inside-out drive over extra-cover off Kuldeep Yadav, Hendricks brought up his fourth ODI fifty.
Markram, meanwhile, grew in confidence by driving through the gaps consistently to get his half-century as well. The duo continued to hit fluent boundaries, rotating the strike and used their feet well before Siraj took out Hendricks on a length ball which he pulled straight to deep square leg.
Markram continued to find boundaries with his pristine timing while Heinrich Klaasen teed off with a four off Washington through backward square leg. He then pulled Shahbaz for a six over mid-wicket and took another four off Avesh Khan through the same shot. Klaasen danced down the pitch to smack Kuldeep over long-off, before holing out to running long-on off the left-arm wrist-spinner.
In the next over, Markram chipped a low delivery straight to extra cover off Washington. From there, India made a comeback as David Miller and Parnell were kept quiet though the left-hander lapped and hit Washington and Kuldeep to pick two fours.
With India drying up boundaries, Parnell was forced to go for the big hits, but holed out to long-off. Miller broke the 41-run boundary drought by smacking back-to-back fours — lofting over the bowler’s head and heaving through squa’e leg. Siraj uprooted Maharaj’s off-stump in the final over as India conceded only 57 runs in the last ten overs.
Brief scores: South Africa 278/7 in 50 overs (Aiden Markram 79, Reeza Hendricks 74; Mohammed Siraj 3-38, Shardul Thakur 1-36) lost to India 282/3 in 45.5 overs (Shreyas Iyer 113 not out, Ishan Kishan 93; Wayne Parnell 1-44, Bjorn Fortuin 1-52) by seven wickets