Captain Virat Kohli played a sensational innings to take his side home by seven wickets after India’s bowlers restricted South Africa to 149/5 in the second Twenty20 international in Chandigarh on Wednesday.
Despite an attacking half-century from skipper Quinton de Kock, South Africa could only put up a sub-par score thanks to some excellent death bowling by the hosts. Kohli, then, played another memorable innings under the lights in Mohali to remain unbeaten on 72 off 52 balls. India chased down the target with an over to spare with Shreyas Iyer remaining unbeaten on 16.
But it was the bowlers led by paceman Deepak Chahar, who set up the win after restricting South Africa.
“Bowlers showed 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.”
Kohli then anchored the chase, putting on crucial partnerships including a 61-run second-wicket stand with opener Shikhar Dhawan, who made 40 off 31 deliveries.
The left-handed Dhawan fell to a spectacular catch by an airborne David Miller at long-on with left arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi getting the breakthrough.
Debutant spinner Bjorn Fortuin struck soon to get wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant back in the pavilion for four as India slipped to 104 for three.
But Kohli, who went on to complete his 22nd T20 fifty in 71 games, stood firm to see the team home with Shreyas Iyer, on 16 as he hit the winning four, at the other end.
Kohli also became the highest run-getter in T20 internationals with 2,441 runs. He is locked in a battle with teammate Rohit Sharma, who was out for 12 and has 2,434 runs from 97 matches.
Medium-pace bowler Chahar returned figures of 2/22 from his four overs to play a big part in choking South Africa’s flow of runs after de Kock’s 37-ball 52.
De Kock, a wicketkeeper-batsman, got the Proteas off to a strong start as he put on a crucial 57-run second-wicket stand with debutant Temba Bavuma, who made 49, after being put in to bat first.
The left-handed opener, who was recently appointed leader of the T20 side, smashed eight fours as he completed his third fifty in the shortest format.
Paceman Navdeep Saini got the prized wicket of de Kock with Kohli taking a sensational one-handed running catch from mid-off.
South Africa lost another wicket five balls later as Ravindra Jadeja sent back Rassie van der Dussen for one with his left-arm spin to check the batting team’s charge.
Bavuma went on to make 49 off 43 deliveries before becoming Chahar’s second victim of the evening as South Africa lost steam in the middle overs.
Unbeaten batsmen Dwaine Pretorius, on 10, and Andile Phehlukwayo, on eight, finished off in style with a six each to make South Africa get 16 runs from the final over but the innings lost momentum in the last three overs leading up to that.
India now have a 1-0 lead after the first game was washed out without a ball being bowled in Dharamsala on Sunday.
(With AFP inputs)