Even though Team India didn’t get the desired result in the second Twenty-20 international against South Africa in Centurion, they will be more than pleased to see their middle-order rescuing the team from a tricky situation.
After being put into bat by South Africa skipper JP Duminy, India lost their consistent top three for just 45 runs. While Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli became the victims of Junior Dala for 0 and 1 respectively, left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan got dismissed by Duminy for 24.
However, the middle-order batsmen stepped up to the plate. At first, comeback man Suresh Raina (30 off 24 balls) added a 45-run stand for the fourth wicket with Manish Pandey, who finished with a special innings of 48-ball 79*.
Raina got trapped in front by Phehlukwayo in the 11th over which brought Dhoni to the crease. The 36-year-old Dhoni then put on an unbeaten 98-run partnership with Pandey as India finished on 188 in their quota of 20 overs. While Dhoni’s blazing 28-ball 52 was laced with 4 boundaries and 3 sixes, Manish’s innings was comprised of 6 four’s and 3 sixes.
Speaking at the presentation ceremony after India’s 6-wicket defeat in Centurion T20I, skipper Virat Kohli was in all praise for the dynamic duo of Dhoni and Manish.
“Tough one for the bowlers. We were looking at 175 with the loss of early wickets. Manish and Raina batted well initially. Manish and MS were outstanding to get to 190. I thought that was a winning total. But the constant drizzle made it difficult from the 12th over onwards. Credit to the SA batsmen. Klaasen and Duminy really batted well,” quoted Kohli.
“They were very positive. Good from the spectator point of view. You don't want play to be stopped. Once the game was continued in the first innings, we knew it was going to be continued throughout. You don't mind these things. We didn't have problems with that. There was a constant drizzle, wasn't too drastic at any stage. It was fine to play in. Not just the case with the short boundary, the ball travels here anyway,” he added.
Virat also defended his bowlers saying that it was difficult to grip the ball because of the constant drizzle.
“With the drizzle, the wicket settled down. The ball was difficult to grip too. They took calculated risks. They targeted the short boundary and it came off for them. They deserve to win. We expect them to show some fight. They showed the passion which is needed to win games of cricket. They deserved to win tonight,” the Indian captain said.
South Africa started their chase with good intentions with Hendricks making 26 in 17 balls with 5 fours, despite Smuts failing once again, caught by Raina off Unadkat for 2. However, it was Heinrich Klaasen’s brutal 69 off 30 balls with 3 fours and 7 sixes. He demolished Yuzvendra Chahal who went for 64 runs in his 4 overs and got hit for 7 sixes in total.
Heinrich’s innings combined with an unbeaten half century by captain JP Duminy took South Africa to a well deserved victory with 6 wickets in hand and 8 balls to spare.
Newlands, Cape Town will host the T20I series decider on Saturday (February 24).