Virat Kohli scored a routinely excellent half-century to lead India to a straightforward seven-wicket victory in the second T20 International against South Africa at the IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali on Wednesday evening.
Requiring just 150 to win on a perfect batting surface Kohli paced the run chase to perfection finishing with an unbeaten 72 from 52 balls (4×4, 3×6) as India finished on 151 for three to seal victory with an over to spare.
“We got off to a good start and towards the end, they bowled pretty well and they assessed the conditions better than we did,” said Proteas captain Quinton de Kock.
“There was a lot of pressure on some of the new guys and I think they did pretty well against this world-class opposition.”
De Kock earlier compiled a composed 52 from 37 deliveries to lay the platform for South Africa’s total of 149 for five but, on a flat pitch and a rapid outfield at the traditionally high scoring venue the tourists always looked 20-30 runs short of a par total against a power-packed home batting line-up.
De Kock was at his silky best easing eight deliveries to the boundary while deliberately keeping the ball on the ground as he attempted to protect an inexperienced middle order.
Temba Bavuma was one of three debutants in the Proteas starting XI and questions about his scoring rate remain unresolved as he struggled to 49 from 43 balls with three fours and a solitary six.
It took a sensational catch from Kohli to end De Kock’s innings as the Indian captain sprinted to his right from mid-on to clutch a miscued drive one-handed.
Reeza Hendricks (6) and Rassie van der Dussen (1) both chipped tame catches early on while Bavuma’s innings ended as he attempted to accelerate and spliced an attempted heave to mid-wicket, the slower ball deceiving him.
David Miller (18 from 15 balls) struck a single six but also looked out of form before missing another slower ball to be bowled by Hardi Pandya.
India’s seam bowlers changed their pace with consummate skill with Deepak Chahar the pick with 2-22 from his four overs.
Andile Phelukwayo (8 not out) and Dwaine Pretorius (10 not out) struck a leg-side six apiece in the final over to provide a much-needed boost to the total although it always looked to be too little, too late.
“Bowlers showed a lot of character. The pitch was very good and they got off to a good start so it was an outstanding effort from the bowlers,” man-of-the-match Kohli said after the win.
“As long as they (youngsters) show character in difficult situations, they are going to present a strong case for themselves in the future.”
Rohit Sharma (12) was trapped lbw by Phehlukwayo and Rishabh Pant heaved a long hop from debutant Bjorn Fortuin to mid-on but opener Shikhar Dhawan (40 from 31 balls) – who was brilliantly caught by Miller at long-on – and Kohli made certain there would be no upset.
Tabraiz Shamsi (1-19) and Phehlukwayo (1-20) were the pick of the bowlers, both from three overs.
South Africa handed debuts to three players with Bavuma completing the trio of formats for the Proteas having played 36 tests and two ODIs. Fast bowler Anrich Nortje and left-arm spinner Fortuin were also in the starting XI.
INDIA: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (capt), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini
SOUTH AFRICA: Quinton de Kock (capt & wk), Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Bjorn Fortuin, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi