The calendar has changed. So has the format and India’s bowling attack after being pounded for a 400-plus total in a One-Day International last October. Still, South Africa continued its merrymaking at Wankhede Stadium by warming up to the World Twenty20 with the construction of a huge total on Saturday.
India’s batsmen eventually ended up four runs short of the Proteas’ 196 for nine, but India’s middle order gave lot of reasons to smile about not just for the dressing room (the dug outs are still not in place at the Wankhede) but even for a near-capacity fans who thronged the stadium. The stupendous turnout was understandable since India will feature in the marquee event in Mumbai only if it makes the knockouts.
It turned out to be a left-handers’ night. First, it was the turn of Quinton de Kock and Jean-Paul Duminy, who added 77 runs in 49 balls for the third wicket, before the former retired after scoring a stylish fifty to give the lower order batsmen a look in.
Dhawan, Raina rescue
Later in the night, it was the turn of India’s lefty duo of Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina. The duo restored India’s innings after Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane failed to make an impact. Their 94-run association off 59 balls ended when both batsmen retired at the end of the 16th over to let Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh wage their handle for four overs.
With 55 runs required to win, the old warhorses revived the memories of the 2011 World Cup final at the same time during their blitzkrieg 24-ball 50 association. Dhoni, who sent Dale Steyn packing with a pull that landed in the second tier over fine leg in the 18th over, had an opportunity to seal the game with a six off the last over. But Chris Morris held his nerves and conceded only a single to get South Africa’s campaign off to a good start.
Brief scores: South Africa 196 for 9 (Jean-Paul Duminy 67, Quinton de Cock 56 retd; Hardik Pandya three for 36, Mohammed Shami two for 37, Jasprit Bumrah two for 51) vs India 192 for 5 (Shikhar Dhawan 73 retd, Suresh Raina 41 retd, Mahendra Singh Dhoni 30 not out).