Virat Kohli announced at the toss that the idea for the team was to step out of comfort zone as part of its preparation for the T20 World Cup in Australia which is a good 13 months away. Leading 1-0 going into the third and final T20I, the team could afford that comfort of experimentation as India skipper chose to bat first at M. Chinnaswamy stadium where chasing had always been the preferred choice.
That strategy, however, failed to earn the expected dividends as India lost wickets at regular intervals to settle for a below-par total of 134-9 in its 20 overs. South Africa essayed fuss-free batting to complete a nine-wicket win and level the series 1-1. It completed the task with 19 balls to spare as captain Quinton de Kock led the chase with an unbeaten 79.
South Africa’s first-wicket partnership was broken only in the 11th over, courtesy a stunning diving catch from Kohli off Hardik Pandya’s bowling. The visitor had already accumulated 76 runs and Reeza Hendrick’s wicket was a minor blip in an otherwise flawless chase.
Rabada, Hendricks restrict India
India was aggressive right from the start, aided partly by the wayward bowling from pacer Kagiso Rabada, who began his spell with three back-to-back wides. In a turn of fortunes, Rabada would go on to take two wickets in the final over of India’s innings to finish as the highest wicket-taker for his team, accounting for three Indian wickets.
Beuran Hendricks, who came in place of the Anrich Nortje, impressed with his bowling. He bowled the right length and controlled his pace effectively to stem the flow of runs.
He began by picking the wicket of Rohit Sharma off his second ball, getting him to err with his footwork and edge one to first-slip JP Duminy. Sharma was looking dangerous after despatching two back-to-back boundaries off Rabada in the previous over, but couldn’t add much to his score.
In the company of skipper Kohli, Dhawan targeted left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, welcoming the bowler with two mighty sixes to long-on and long-off, respectively. But the left-hander’s adventure was also short-lived as he failed to find the middle of the bat after a pre-meditated stride to the front. Shamsi cleverly changed the trajectory to get Dhawan to slice one to Temba Bavuma, who arched back to safely pouch the catch. Dhawan’s 36 off 25 balls would prove to be India’s highest of the innings.
Pant's struggles continue
Kohli soon followed suit after Andile Phehlukwayo, running to his left at the edge of the deep mid-wicket boundary, managed to stay inside the ropes to take the catch off Rabada’s bowling. Kohli could contribute only nine runs on Sunday.
Rishabh Pant began cautiously, then freed his arms for some cheeky boundaries before giving away his wicket by misjudging the line and slicing the ball high off spinner Bjorn Fortuin. He showed much promise only to fail again.
It proved to be a free fall of wickets as India could manage only 134-9.
Rain clouds stayed clear to help South Africa complete the chase without much ado and level the series.
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