Kohli, Dhawan stamp India’s superiority as the host goes 1-0 up

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Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer walk off the field after winning the second Twenty20 international cricket match of a three-match series between India and South Africa at Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali on September 18, 2019

Toothless SA attack make chase easy for hosts

A business-like chase scripted by Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan separated India and South Africa by seven wickets.

More significant than the margin of victory was how ineffective the visitor’s attack was made to look in the chase of 150, culminating in the penultimate over at the PCA Stadium here on Wednesday.

Having taken a 1-0 lead with a match to go in the three-match T20 series, India will have to be wary of being a shade complacent when the teams meet in Bangalore.

Dhawan, before being brilliantly taken by a diving David Miller — clearly the catch of the match — at the long-on fence, played his part during the 61-run second-wicket stand with Kohli.

As is his wont, Kohli batted with élan and ensured that he finished the job. He stroked the ball well, relied more on rotating the strike without missing an opportunity to hit the ball to the ropes.

During Kohli’s unbeaten 52-ball 72, the standout stroke was the six over backward square-leg off Kagiso Rabada’s 141-kmph delivery.

At the other end, Rishabh Pant flopped with his offering to Tabraiz Shamsi at short fine-leg, appearing more careless than fearless.

Shreyas Iyer did just what the situation demanded.

Brightest phase

Earlier, put into bat, South Africa’s brightest phase was provided by skipper Quinton de Kock’s half-century. Once he was dismissed, India kept tightening the screws.

India opted for variety in spin, playing Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar and Krunal Pandya and keeping Rahul Chahar out. In picking the pacers, the left-armer Khaleel Ahmed was ignored with Deepak Chahar joining Navdeep Saini and all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who returned to the mix.

Interestingly, India tried out five bowlers in the first eight overs, with the sixth option Krunal Pandya bowling only the 14th! Overall, after facing the early heat, the bowlers made a strong comeback. The use of slower deliveries helped keep South Africa to a sub-150 total.

The fall of four wickets in the space of 36 deliveries and 41 runs reduced South Africa from a promising 88 for one to 129 for five.

The last over produced 16 runs, including a six each to Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo, off Navdeep Saini to lift the total.

After warming up with an opening-over boundary off Washington Sundar, de kock welcomed Saini in the next over with three successive boundaries — past third man, through extra-cover and to midwicket.

Before Saini got his revenge in the 12th over, de Kock hit four more fours, reached his half-century in style. The skipper’s blitzkrieg provided his team the foundation to keep an eye on the average total of 185 on this ground.

Twin blow

India’s comeback began when Kohli caught his opposite number with a running, tumbling catch. Soon, Ravindra Jadeja accepted a return-catch to send back Rassie van der Dussen. This twin-blow ensured that the run-rate was never the same.

Barring de Kock, only Temba Bavuma — paceman Anrich Nortje and left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin being the other two debutants — did his job after coming in at No. 3.

Bavuma showed a special liking to the bowling of Hardik Pandya, hitting him for a six in the eighth over and two successive boundaries in the 10th to grow in confidence. However, he failed to accelerate the run-rate and eventually departed in the 18th over.

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