Cape Town — South Africa's plan to close out the series and claim a 14th successive T20I win ran into a spot of bother in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday night. Having roared into a 2-0 lead after the opening two games they unfortunately found their hosts in a much less generous mood in the “City of Destiny”.
Chasing India's challenging but not unsurpassable score of 179/5, they were bowled out for 131 on a surface that finally offered the home team’s spinners some grip and turn. After enduring a rare off night at Cuttack in the last game, Yuzvendra Chahal was back doing what he does best at the Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium.
He controlled the middle overs with his mixture of leg-spinners and top-spinners that had the South Africa’s much-vaunted middle-order perplexed for the first time in the series. Both Dwaine Pretorius — again coming in at first drop — and Rassie van der Dussen were caught behind, but the wicket that would have given him the most pleasure was that of his arch-nemesis Heinrich Klaasen.
Even more satisfying for Chahal (3/20) was the way his plans worked out. A succession of straight deliveries was followed by a wider slower turning ball that had Klaasen reaching outside his off stump in an attempt to play the big shot.
It might have been different for South Africa if they had managed to at least build some momentum upfront against India’s pacers. However, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/21) once again set the tone with an economical new-ball spell that had openers Temba Bavuma (8) and Reeza Hendricks (23) on scratching around in the Powerplay.
The fact that they had both departed by the close of the first six overs with only 38 runs on the board was in complete contrast to India’s opening pair Ruturaj Gaikwad (57) and Ishan Kishan (54) that belted 57 runs during the same period.undefined
But unlike the other matches where South Africa found match-winners in Van der Dussen and Miller (Dehli) and Klaasen (Cuttack), India never took their foot off South Africa’s throat third time around.
With Chahal receiving solid support from his spin partner Axar Patel (1/28) and seamer Harsha Patel taking the big wicket of Miller enroute to his career-best figures of 4/25, South Africa were not able to perform another Houdini act.
The bowling unit had actually recovered well earlier in the day to restrict India to 82 runs in the final 10 overs with a disciplined effort from Pretorius (2/29).undefined
But overall South Africa would be first to admit they were not at their best last night. The fielding was sloppy with a couple of dropped catches in the deep, while the bowlers, in particular, Anrich Nortje not hitting their lengths or lines from the outset.
They will regather and take the lessons learnt over the course of the next couple of days before they go again and attempt to finish off the series in Rajkot on Friday.
India: 179/5 (Gaikwad 57, Kishan 54, Pandya 31*, Pretorius 2/29)
South Africa: 131 all out (Klaasen 29, Patel 4/25, Chahal 3/20)
India win by 48 runs, SA lead series 2-1