Unfazed by India’s big total, the Proteas put on a thrilling batting display to overcome India’s challenging total of 200 with seven wickets and three deliveries to spare in the first Twenty20 match in Dharamsala , taking a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
In a high-scoring encounter played before a sell-out crowd of 23,000 , the tourists chased down India’s challenging 199-5 with relative ease. India’s innings after being sent in to bat revolved around a superb 106 off 66 balls by opener Rohit Sharma, ably supported by deputy Virat Kohli’s 27-ball 43.
The Proteas, helped by the Indian bowlers’ inability to grip the ball in the evening dew, made light of the stiff target following a rip-roaring opening stand of 77 from 53 balls between Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers.
Amla hit 36 off 24 balls and De Villiers contributed a typically aggressive 51 from 32 deliveries that included seven fours and a six. India claimed three wickets for 15 runs to reduce South Africa to 95-3, but JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien stepped in to hit a match-winning partnership of 105 that came off just 55 balls.
Left-handed Duminy remained unbeaten on a 34-ball 68 that was studded with seven sixes, three off them from successive deliveries by left-arm spinner Axar Patel, while Behardien chipped in with 32 not out.
Sreenath Aravind, a 31-year-old left-arm seamer from Karnataka, made a forgettable international debut as he was hammered for 44 runs in 3.4 overs, including a last-over six by Duminy. He did scalp the wicket of Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis, however.
In India’s innings, Sharma plundered 12 boundaries and five sixes in his maiden T20 century, displaying a spectacular array of strokes all round the ground. The aggressive Kohli became the first Indian batsman to score 1,000 T20 runs as he blazed his way to three sixes and a four.
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni blamed the lack of consistency in India’s bowling department leading to the defeat. India were left ruing a costly 16th over where Axar Patel was hit for 22 runs by Duminy thus turning the match effectively Proteas way.