South Africa defeated India by seven wickets in Delhi on Thursday to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series. India were aiming to set a new record for the most consecutive T20 International victories by a team in men’s cricket, but they came short on the night.

Rishabh Pant and Co were asked to bat first and posted a mammoth total of 211/4, thanks mainly to Ishan Kishan’s 48-ball 76 and Hardik Pandya’s unbeaten 12-ball 31. It was India’s highest T20I total against South Africa.

However, the Proteas won with five balls to spare thanks to a sensational 131-run unbeaten partnership between David Miller (64* off 31) and Rassie van der Dussen (75* off 46).

Heading into the five-match series against South Africa, India had won their last 12 T20Is – a streak that began during the T20 World Cup in 2021. During this record run, the Men in Blue completed clean sweeps against New Zealand, West Indies and Sri Lanka, with all three of those series played at home.

India in their last 13 T20Is

Result  Margin  Opposition  Venue Date 
won  66 runs  v Afghanistan  Abu Dhabi  3 Nov 2021 
won  8 wickets  v Scotland  Dubai (DSC)  5 Nov 2021 
won  9 wickets  v Namibia  Dubai (DSC)  8 Nov 2021 
won  5 wickets  v New Zealand  Jaipur  17 Nov 2021 
won  7 wickets  v New Zealand  Ranchi  19 Nov 2021 
won  73 runs  v New Zealand  Kolkata  21 Nov 2021 
won  6 wickets  v West Indies  Kolkata  16 Feb 2022 
won  8 runs  v West Indies  Kolkata  18 Feb 2022 
won  17 runs  v West Indies  Kolkata  20 Feb 2022 
won  62 runs  v Sri Lanka  Lucknow  24 Feb 2022 
won  7 wickets  v Sri Lanka  Dharamsala  26 Feb 2022 
won  6 wickets  v Sri Lanka  Dharamsala  27 Feb 2022
lost 7 wickets v South Africa Delhi 9 Jun 2022
Courtesy ESPNcricinfo

Most consecutive men's T20I wins*

Team  No of consecutive wins  Span 
India 12 Nov 2021-Jun 2022
Afghanistan  12  Feb 2018-Sep 2019 
Pakistan  July 2018-November 2018 
England  May 2010-January 2011 
Pakistan  January 2018-July 2018
*As full members of ICC

Earlier on Thursday, opener Ishan Kishan led India’s batting charge with a blazing half-century. The left-handed Kishan laid the foundation of India’s challenging total after they were invited to bat first.

South Africa suffered an early blow when Aiden Markram was ruled of the opener with Covid-19 in a series played without pandemic bubble restrictions. Cricket South Africa said Markram tested positive for the virus on Wednesday and is keeping “well” in his quarantine protocol.

Kishan took on the bowlers and put on key stands including an 80-run second-wicket partnership with Shreyas Iyer who made 36 off 27.

Ruturaj Gaikwad was the first to go after he survived a dropped catch on 17 only to get out on the next ball off left-arm quick Wayne Parnell. He made 23 off 15.

Kishan reached his fifty with a six off left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj as South Africa looked lacklustre in the field with dropped catches and missed chances. Kishan smashed Maharaj for two sixes and two fours in the 13th over but got out caught on the last ball in another attempt to clear the rope.

Rishabh Pant, who was making his captaincy debut for the national team after KL Rahul was ruled out with an injury on the eve of the match, smashed 29 off 16 and put together 46 runs off 18 balls with Pandya.

In reply, South Africa achieved their highest T20I run chase to end India’s bid to register a record 13th successive win in the format.

South Africa lost skipper Temba Bavuma for 10 in the second over of their chase but Dwaine Pretorius attempted to hit back in his 13-ball 29.

Pretorius’ departure and then Quinton de Kock’s wicket for 22 swung the momentum back in favour of India but Miller soon took charge.

He was punishing on the bowlers as he hit left-arm spinner Axar Patel for a four and two sixes in a 19-run 13th over to silence the home crowd.

Miller, who is fresh from his Indian Premier League win with the Pandya-led Gujarat Titans, reached his 50 in 22 balls.

Van der Dussen survived a dropped catch on 29 to record his seventh T20 half-century as he hit the winning boundary in his 46-ball innings.

The second match of the series will be played on Sunday in Cuttack.

Inputs from AFP