For nearly 46 overs during their chase of a target of 304, India looked set to bag a victory. Imran Tahir came into the attack in the 47th over and turned the game on its head. Both Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina fell prey to Tahir’s guile and India were never quite able to recover from there. An ageing Dhoni tried to do it in doubles from thereon, but India were always falling short on the big shots in the last 4 overs. They finished on 298/7, five agonising runs short of the target!
South Africa bat first, de Villiers on the rampage
The visitors had a decent start to their innings, with Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla going steady till the 8 over mark. Ashwin’s introduction in the 9th over changed things, as he dismissed de Kock with his fourth ball of the day. Amla’s solid 37 off 59 took South Africa past the 100 run mark, before Amit Mishra got the better of him. Faf du Plessis got to his half century, and was assisted by AB de Villiers during their 48 run stand for the 3rd wicket. du Plessis was done in by an Umesh Yadav delivery that jagged back at his pads from outside the off stump and caught him leg before wicket. The Proteas, at that point, were placed at 152/3 in 33.1 overs.
Faf’s dismissal brought ABD into his own in the last 10 overs. Duminy and Miller were unable to assist him for long, as they both fell cheaply to Yadav and Mishra respectively. Farhan Behardien (35 off 19) gave his captain just the kind of company he was looking for. A heavy assault on the errant Indian bowlers in the last 5 overs took South Africa to 303, as the bombastic de Villiers completed a 73 ball century in no time! India had once again succumbed to their age old weakness – death bowling. The medium pacers – Bhuvi and Binny – conceded at 6.70 and 7.87 respectively. Umesh Yadav, despite picking up two wickets earlier in the innings, went for 71 in his 10 overs.
Rohit Sharma takes charge for India, takes them tantalizingly close to victory
In short, Rohit Sharma scored more than half of India’s runs today! He looked ominous right from the very outset, and the memory of scoring a T20 century barely a week ago seemed to have worked wonders on his morale. Despite Dhawan’s dismissal in the 8th over, Rohit’s aggression remained unchecked. Ajinkya Rahane’s (60 off 82) promotion to No 3 in the batting order turned out to be a masterstroke. The right hander played second fiddle to Rohit Sharma during their mammoth 149 run stand for the 2nd wicket. India were placed comfortably at 191/2 in the 34th over when Rahane’s promising innings was cut short by an innocuous delivery from Farhan Behardien.
Virat Kohli was dismissed cheaply, but with Rohit Sharma going steadily at the other end India had very little reason to worry. Rohit completed his century in 98 balls, and looked brilliantly poised to push for something close to a double hundred. Imran Tahir’s match-changing 47th over, however, made sure that did not happen. Suresh Raina and Stuart Binny failed to get the big shots going just when India needed them the most. Kagiso Rabada wonderfully defended 11 in the last over, and left India frustrated at the end of the day.
Man of the Match – AB de Villiers
Full scorecard available here