David Miller and Rassie van der Dussen pummeled India into submission to halt India’s winning run in T20Is at the Arun Jaitley here on Thursday. En route, they registered the highest fourth-wicket partnership for South Africa (131 in 63 balls, unbeaten) for a thrilling seven-wicket win.
South Africa began its chase of 212 sprightly but it was hardly clear then that it would go on to record the highest successful run chase, to the disappointment and stunned silence of a near-capacity crowd. Despite a few big hits by the top order batters, including four sixes by No. 3 Dwayne Pretorius, a lot of work was left to be done in the latter half of the innings, especially after the 13th over, when 106 were left to be scored. Van der Dussen (75 n.o., 46b, 7x4, 5x6) had then eaten up 20 balls for his 21, and Miller was batting on 19.
Miller (64 n.o., 31b, 4x4, 5x6) first collared Axar Patel, hitting an excellent cut shot for a four, stepping down the pitch and lofting to deep extra-cover, and pulling a long hop to deep midwicket. An over later, he smashed Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who until then had bowled economically, for a six and a four off two slower deliveries. A key moment in the contest was a dropped catch by Shreyas Iyer at deep midwicket. Van der Dussen had pulled a delivery from Avesh Khan, and the ball travelled straight to Shreyas' lap, but fell out.
The tables truly turned in the 17th over, however, as Harshal Patel got hit for 22. He bowled two full toss in a row to start off; both were hit for sixes by Van der Dussen. Later in the over, a short-of-a-length delivery was pulled to square leg for another six as Van der Dussen brought up his half-century off 37 deliveries. Bhuvneshwar was hit for 22 as well as South Africa suddenly closed in on the target. Two sixes were hit, one off a full delivery and another off a short-a-length delivery which was slogged disdainfully to deep midwicket. Two streaky boundaries brought the equation to 12 off 12.
Harshal tried to make amends in the penultimate over, and the crowd found its voice momentarily when he appeared to have dismissed van der Dussen lbw. The not-out verdict wasn’t overturned, however, even though it looked out to the naked eye. India was consigned to its fate.
Hitting from the get go
Earlier, the Indian top order decided to attempt a full-blooded sprint from the get go and, in doing so, reached its seventh-highest T20 total (joint) and the highest total at the venue. The pitch, according to Ishan Kishan, did not support uninhibited hitting as the ball didn’t come on to the bat nicely, but he still made the most of the short boundaries to get the team off to a rapid start.
Fast bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje bowled fast and back of a length to quieten the batters for a bit after an expensive first over of the innings, before Ruturaj Gaikwad got a top edge off a short delivery from Rabada for six runs. It was in the final over of the Powerplay that runs came at a torrent again, Gaikwad pulling Nortje for a six to fine leg and Kishan hitting two fours through the off-side.
Gaikwad hit a six again, pulling Wayne Parnell to fine leg where Dwayne Pretorius dropped the catch. But he was out next ball, trying to convert a good length delivery to a six but paying the price for his belligerence, the ball hitting the splice of the bat and floating up to Temba Bavuma at midwicket to take a simple catch.
Kishan (76, 48b, 11x4, 3x6) seized on anything short and wide, which he cut, and anything full, which he smacked down the ground ferociously. But he appeared most imperious playing the slog-sweep off Keshav Maharaj, the left-arm spinner. All three of his sixes were off Maharaj, the first of them bringing up his half-century off 37 deliveries and the 50-run partnership with Shreyas Iyer (36, 27b, 1x4, 3x6). Shreyas, on the other hand, took a liking to Tabraiz Shamsi, the other spinner, hitting three sixes off him. The two Proteas spinners went for 70 runs off their five overs combined.
Even though the seamers pulled it back to a certain extent in the middle overs, with Kishan and Shreyas back in the dugout, more carnage was to follow. Local boy Rishabh Pant (29, 16b, 2x4, 2x6) played an entertaining innings, hitting some unique, weird strokes – one of them a tennis forehand to long-on for six – en route to a quickfire 29. Hardik Pandya (31 n.o., 12b, 2x4, 3x6) nonchalantly slapped length deliveries for sixes to provide the finishing touches.