India vs South Africa: Virat Kohli’s bold move to bat first reversed on his team as Quinton de Kock (79 not out) initiated South Africa’s chase for a series-levelling nine-wicket win in the third T20 International on Sunday.
To surprise everyone, Kohli opted to bat after the coin landed in his favour on one of the smallest grounds, always known to favour teams chasing in the shortest format.
Initially though, the decision seemed to have worked as India raced to 54 for one in six overs at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. The departure of Shikhar Dhawan gave the South Africans an opening, and they grabbed it with both hands, snuffing out eight Indian wickets for 71 runs.
In their chase, South African captain de Kock looked in complete control and struck six fours and five sixes in his unbeaten 52-ball 79. He added 76 runs for the first wicket with Reeza Hendricks in 10 overs and then put on another 64 with Temba Bavuma.
After moving to 19 in four overs, De Kock cut loose by hitting Navdeep Saini for two sixes, and there was no looking back.
Earlier, India were stopped at 134 for nine by a disciplined South African attack.
Top-scorer Dhawan blazed away to a 25-ball 36 and got India off to a brisk start that yielded them 54 runs in the first six overs.
Kagiso Rabada was expensive but picked up three wickets, while Bjorn Fortuin (2/19 in 3 overs) and Beuran Hendricks (2/14 in four overs) both picked up 2 wickets each.
Rohit Sharma got out early but he did put Rabada under pressure straightaway, striking him for two boundaries in his first over – one over cover and the other through extra cover.
That brought crowds favourite Kohli in the middle but Dhawan, who began the innings with a boundary, was in charge and welcomed leg-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi with back-to-back sixes.
The first six was smashed over long-on and then the second maximum, Dhawan sweeped down the ground, played against the turn, before striking the ball towards long-off.
Going for another six, Dhawan miss timed Shamsi, who had his revenge after Temba Bavuma completed a neat catch.
Kohli, too, followed Dhawan as Andile Phehlukwayo pulled off a fine running catch in the deep. Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant, who improvised to scoop Dwaine Pretorius over the fine leg boundary, threw away their wickets within two balls, leaving India in trouble at 92 for five in the 13th over.
After Pant fell prey to Fortuin’s smart piece of bowling, Iyer stepped out to stumped off a wide ball. It was yet another failure for Pant and once again to a left-arm spinner.
After Santner accounted him in the World Cup, Fortuin has now got him twice in two games.
At the toss, Kohli’s contention was that he doesn’t want the team to slip into a comfort zone. Batting first or second, he wants his team to be a master of all situations with little more than a year left for the T20 World Cup.
However, it did not prove to be a successful move as South Africa staged a strong comeback to level the three-match series 1-1 after the first game was washed out.
There was a miscommunication: Virat Kohli on Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer both coming out to bat at No.4
Miscommunications” between Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer nearly saw both players walking out to bat at the same time, creating confusion.
After the dismissal of opener Shikhar Dhawan, both Iyer and Pant seemed headed towards the pitch before the following eventual walking in to join his captain at the number four position.
Kohli was asked about it at the post-match press conference after South Africa emerged winners by nine wickets. “I think there was a miscommunication. That was what I understood afterwards,” he said.
“The batting coach had a word with both of them. There was a misunderstanding over who has to go at what stage,” Kohli said. “It was a little funny as well afterwards because they both wanted to walk in. So it would have been very funny if both reached the pitch, you know three batsmen in the field.”
India skipper also admitted that the South African bowlers bowled well and used the pitch well as the hosts failed to read the tempo of the game.
“I think South Africa bowled well, the pitch suited them in the first innings and we weren’t able to read the tempo of the game well. I would say only in T20 cricket (where chasing is easier).”
“In one-day cricket you have time for the bowlers to come back, but here a partnership of 40-50 can take the game away from you. One good partnership and you’re under the pump even if you’re defending 200.”
Highlights: India vs South Africa
- Quinton de Kock (79*) led South Africa’s chase for a series-levelling with nine-wickets win.
- Chasing a small 135-run target, South African captain de Kock looked in complete control and struck six fours and five sixes.
- India captain Virat Kohli’s bold move to bat first reversed on his team.
- Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer both got ready to bat at No.4 after Shikhar Dhawan’s dismissal.
- Pant eventually batted ahead of Iyer but both failed to fire, scoring 19 and 5 runs.
- South Africa (140 for 1) defeated India (134 for 9) by 9 wickets to draw the 3-match series 1-1 on Sunday.