Cape Town: India ended the South Africa tour on a high as they defeated the hosts by seven runs in the final T20I to clinch the three-match series 2-1 in Cape Town ok Saturday.
With skipper Virat Kohli being rested due to a stiff back, India were led by Rohit Sharma in his absence and now, the Mumbai batsman has four wins in his first four T20Is as skipper after Saturday’s victory.
But once again, he didn’t make any impact with the bat as he was dismissed by Junior Dala for the third time in the series, after the right-arm medium pacer trapped the opener in front of the wicket.
Having sent back the captain early, the hosts clearly had the momentum but it was the in-form Shikhar Dhawan who joined forces with Suresh Raina to stitch a 65-runs stand that lifted India out of trouble and ensured that they were on the right track for a big score.
Raina, who hasn’t had much a strong impact in his comeback series showed glimpses of his old self, hammering a 27-ball 43 with five fours and one six. Dhawan, the top-scorer of the series (143 runs) missed out on a fifty, scoring 47 from 40 deliveries with three fours, before a direct hit from Dala ended his stay at the crease, giving the hosts another opening in the match.
Cameos from Manish Pandey (13), Hardik Pandya (21) and MS Dhoni (12) helped India push for a big total on the board and their effort was complemented by Dinesh Karthik, who scored 13 of six balls with three fours as the visitors ended with 172 runs on the board.
Dala finished as the best bowler in the innings with figures of 3/35 from his four overs. He finished the series as the highest wicket-taker with seven wickets, jointly with Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
The Proteas didn’t have the best of beginnings with the in-form Reeza Hendricks holding out to Dhawan at wide mid-on off the bowling of Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Miller, who came out to open the innings scored a 23-ball 24 before he, in an attempt to match up to the increasing required run rate, mistimed a pull shot which was carefully caught by Axar Patel.
The JP Duminy-Heinrich Klaasen duo, who had made the difference for the hosts in the last match once again were going to be the key figures in the run-chase but after the latter was dismissed for just seven runs, the equation looked tough for the Proteas.
Yet, Duminy’s fighting 55 of 41 deliveries managed to keep South Africa in the game while it lasted. But debutant Christaan Jonker stole the show with a blazing 49 of just 24 balls to help his team edge closer to the Indian total before his dismissal in the final ball of the innings ensured that India take the match and the series 2-1.
After a disappointing Test series, the visitors have made amends in the limited overs’ leg, winning both the ODI and T20I series’ and would head home a much more confident side, having made life difficult for the Proteas as the tour progressed.
South Africa 165/6 (JP Duminy 55, Christaan Jonker 49; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2/24) lost to India 172/7 (Shikhar Dhawan 47, Suresh Raina 43; Junior Dala 3/35) by 7 runs.