Duminy's 68 helps South Africa beat India by seven wickets

Duminy was adjudged man of the match for scoring 68 off 34 deliveries, a knock that included seven sixes including three consecutive ones off Axar Patel. After scoring 14 off the first 13 deliveries he faced, Duminy started to accelerate in the 16th over bowled by Patel.

Jean-Paul Duminy's 34-ball 68 helped South Africa beat India by seven wickets.   -  AP

Rohit Sharma celebrates his maiden T20I century.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

The first of the three-match T20I series between India and South Africa on Friday had all the elements of a ‘T20 blockbuster’: a swashbuckling hundred, huge sixes, big overs, unexpected turnarounds, and a last over finish.

But it was an anti-climax for India, especially for Rohit Sharma, who treated the 20,000-plus crowd at Dharamsala with his maiden T20I hundred, scored off just 62 balls. His innings powered India to 199, which the visitors chased down with seven wickets and two balls remaining.

Needing ten off the final over, J.P. Duminy hit a six off the third ball to level the scores and took a single off the next. The left-hander was adjudged man of the match for scoring 68 off 34 deliveries, a knock that included seven sixes including three consecutive ones off Axar Patel. After scoring 14 off the first 13 deliveries he faced, Duminy started to accelerate in the 16th over bowled by Patel.

The three sixes off the leg-spinner, turned the tide in South Africa’s favour after India had taken three quick wickets a little earlier. Openers Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers put South Africa in a cushion, shaving 77 runs off the target in just seven overs.

South Africa seemed undaunted by a big target and attacked from the start, scoring two boundaries in the first over. Amla and AB punished the Indian bowlers with contrasting styles. Amla was dexterous, calm, and silent and AB -- brutal, powerful, and audacious. The latter smashed the second ball he faced over wide long-on.

The flow of runs was stemmed when Amla couldn’t beat an accurate one-bounce throw by Bhuvneshwar Kumar to Ashwin, who clipped the bails. Later, Ashwin bowled de Villiers when he danced down the pitch with a slower one that turned just enough deceive him.

With the target still in reach for the visitors, S. Aravind got rid off the dangerous Faf du Plessis, thereby getting his maiden international wicket. The visitors looked like they were in trouble but Duminy and Farhaan Behardien, who surprisingly came ahead of David Miller, chased down the target with ease.

Earlier, put into bat by South Africa after the toss, Rohit Sharma scored a scintillating hundred--the second after Suresh Raina scored one against the same opposition.

Sharma took some time to settle down. The even bounce from Dharamsala pitch did not seem to trouble the right-hander. He put the loose ones pitched wide outside the off-stump with relative ease. And once he settled down, the South Africans found him harder to contain than water gushing from a broken pipe.

Of all things, it was Sharma’s timing that stood out on Friday night. When Merchant de Lange came around the off-stump, Sharma moved backwards to the leg-stump to make room to drive the ball to the covers.

After getting to his half-century in 39 balls, the right-hander started to toy with the bowlers. The short balls--considered as Indian batsmen’s kryptonite--were dismissed by Sharma’s bludgeoning pulls. He brought up his hundred with a strong punch that sent the ball sailing over long-off.

India were coasting at 158 for one at the end of 15 overs with Virat Kohli scoring 47 off 29 from the other end. South Africa then managed to relatively contain the rest of the Indian batsmen, restricting them under 200, albeit by one run. But in the end, India found themselves 10-20 runs short.

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