Centurion: South Africa rode on some powerful batting by Heinrich Klaasen and Jean-Paul Duminy to defeat India by six wickets in the second Twenty20 International (T20I) at the SuperSport Park here on Wednesday.
Chasing a formidable target of 189 runs, the hosts romped home with eight balls to spare. The three-match series is now locked at 1-1. Klaasen brought up his maiden T20I half-century, producing an awe inspiring show of power hitting to plunder 69 runs off just 30 balls. Duminy remained unbeaten on 64 runs off 40 balls with four boundaries and three sixes.
The South African chase was off to a decent start before J.J. Smuts stepped out to pacer Jaydev Unadkat, only to be surprised by a slower delivery as Suresh Raina picked up an easy lofted catch at cover-point. Reeza Hendricks handed pacer Shardul Thakur a wicket on his T20I debut when he went after a short piched delivery only to send his mistimed attempt into the hands of Hardik Pandya at deep mid-wicket. With both opener back in the pavilion after five overs, the hosts seemed to be in deep trouble. But Heinrich Klaasen and Jean-Paul Duminy brought the South African innings back on track with a 93-run partnership.
Klaasen brought up his half-century in style, hitting Hardik Pandya for a boundary to reach 51 in just 22 balls. The right-hander went berserk in the next over, smashing Yuzvendra Chahal for two sixes and a boundary to send the home crowd into a frenzy. Unadkat brought his superb innings to an end in the very next over as Klaasen edged a slow off-cutter to Mahendra Singh Dhoni behind the stumps. David Miller was removed by Pandya in the next over as the Indians looked to make a comeback. However, Duminy led from the front to take the battle to the Indian bowlers and kept the asking rate within range.
Fittingly, it was the Proteas captain who hit the winning runs. He smashed Unadkat for two consecutive sixes to bring up the victory in some style. Earlier, India rode on some power packed batting to post 188/4 in their 20 overs. Manish Pandey was the highest scorer for India with an unbeaten 79 runs off just 48 balls. His power-packed knock, which included six boundaries and three sixes, provided the late impetus to the Indian innings. The veteran Mahendra Singh Dhoni gave him excellent support from the other end, remaining unbeaten on 52 runs off a mere 28 balls, hitting four boundaries and three sixes along the way. Coming together in the 11th over, the duo added 98 runs between them to carry the visitors to a formidable total.
Fast bowler Junior Dala bowled well on his T20I debut, notching up figures of 2/28. Asked to bat first, the visitors suffered a scare off the very first ball when Shikhar Dhawan edged a Chris Morris delivery onto his pads. The umpire had initially ruled the left-hander out but had to reverse his decision after television replays revealed a clear inside edge. But the Indians' relief was only temporary as Dala struck the first blow for the hosts with a delivery that kept low and trapped and outfoxed Rohit Sharma plumb before the stumps. However, the arrival of Suresh Raina saw the momentum shift to the Indians' favour as he and Dhawan started to play in an aggressive manner and dominated the South African pacers. The duo kept the Indians on track with a 43-run partnership. That prompted South African captain Jean-Paul Duminy to come into the attack and the off-spinner had an immediate impact as Dhawan hit his second delivery into the hands of Farhaan Behardien at mid-on.
Dhawan was in good touch, scoring 24 runs off 14 balls with three boundaries and two sixes. Dala removed Virat Kohli in the next over, outfoxing the Indian skipper with some extra bounce as overjoyed wicket-keeper Heinrich Klaasen latched onto to the outside edge. The momentum however, stayed with the Indians as Raina and Manish Pandey added 45 runs between them off the next five overs. Fast bowler Andile Phehlukwayo broke the crucial partnership when he trapped Raina leg before.
Raina's 24-ball knock produced 30 runs which included five hits to the fence. That was the last bit of celebration the hosts will eventually manage as Pandey and Dhoni virtually tore the Proteas' bowling apart. Brief scores: South Africa: 189/4 in overs (Heinrich Klaasen 69, Jean-Paul Duminy 64 not out; Jaydev Unadkat 2/42) vs India: 188/4 in 20 overs (Manish Pandey 79 not out, Mahendra Singh Dhoni 52 not out; Junior Dala 2/28).