CUTTACK: Riding on Heinrich Klaasen’s whirlwind 81, South Africa chased down 149 in 18.2 overs against India in the 2nd T20I at Cuttack to seal a four-wicket win. The visitors have now taken a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.
Rabada and Parnell’s stranglehold: South Africa’s opening bowlers – Kagiso Rabada and Wayne Parnell – made excellent use of the sluggish pitch and bowled with nagging accuracy. The pitch was two-paced, the bounce was low and it wasn’t easy for batsmen to play their shots fluidly.
In the first over, Rabada nipped out Indian opener Ruturaj Gaikwad as the right-hander pushed at a delivery which slightly stopped after pitching and was caught at point. Though Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer added 45 runs for the second wicket, the scoring rate was tame. Rabada conceded only 4 runs in the first two overs and troubled batsmen frequently.
The left-arm medium-pacer Parnell also put balls in the right corridors and varied his pace astutely. Even during the middle overs, Parnell bowled with gusto and cleaned up the dangerous Hardik Pandya for just 9 in the 13th over. No Indian batsman looked at ease against both these South African bowlers.
Together, they gave away only 38 runs in 8 overs and snapped up two scalps.
Iyer, the anchor; Karthik, the finisher: As the wickets kept tumbling around him, Shreyas Iyer churned out an uncharacteristically placid innings. He began by lofting Parnell over covers in the second over but after that played second fiddle to Kishan till the left-hander was at the crease. He was especially watchful against pacers and didn’t attempt fancy shots.
In the 9th over, he broke the shackles by stepping out against left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi and clubbing him for a boundary over mid-wicket. In the same over, he once again waltzed down the track and smoked him for a huge six which almost landed in the press box. Before he was caught behind off Pretorius in the 14th over, he had totted up 40 runs off 35 balls.
Dinesh Karthik once again cemented his reputation as a fine finisher as he pummelled an unbeaten 30 off 21 balls to push India to a respectable 148-6 in 20 overs. The hosts were 118-6 in 18 overs but Karthik and Harshal Patel walloped 30 runs in the last two overs. In the last over, Karthik plundered 18 runs by smoking Pretorius for two sixes – the first one was slapped over mid-off and the second one clouted down the ground – as the medium-pacer looked unsettled by the batsman’s improvisations.
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Pretorius, who was taken apart in the death overs, was the most expensive South African bowler as he leaked 40 runs in 4 overs. Pacer Anrich Nortje (36 in 4 overs) and Shamsi (21 in 2 overs) also failed to make an impact.
Bhuvi’s brilliance: Bhuvneshwar Kumar put up a masterclass on how to bowl with a new ball on such a surface as he clinically decimated South Africa’s top-order. In the first over, South Africa’s opener Reeza Hendricks was left bamboozled by a nip-backer which remained a tad low and shattered his stumps. In his second over, Bhuvi craftily slipped in a knuckleball and Pretorius was held out at deep square-leg while attempting to smack him out of the ground.
Coming from the other end, Bhuvi once again struck in the 6th over as Rassie van der Dussen, one of the heroes for South Africa in the last match, was left rooted at the crease and found his stumps rattled by a sharp inswinger. His superlative opening spell left the visitors reeling at 29-6 after 6 overs.
‘Classy’ Klaasen: The visitors’ wicket-keeper – Heinrich Klaasen – proved to be the difference between the two teams in the end. On a surface where other batsmen struggled to put the balls away, Klaasen batted with fiery authority and audacity. The right-hander, who was drafted into the playing XI in place of injured Quinton de Kock, came to the crease when South Africa were tottering after Bhuvi’s blinding opening spell, but Klaasen looked refreshingly at ease. He started the fireworks by clubbing leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal for a six as he slog-swept him over deep mid-wicket in the 9th over. Then he punched Pandya for two more boundaries in the 11th over as he started oozing confidence.
Klaasen reached his fifty off just 32 balls in the 14th over by tapping Pandya for a single. He ran amok in the 16th over and whacked Chahal for two sixes over wide long-on and one behind square as South Africa collected 23 runs from the over.
He cobbled up a 64-run alliance with Bavuma – who made 35 off 30 balls – for the fourth wicket and then added 51 runs with David Miller. By the time he perished for 81 off 46 balls, an innings embellished with five towering sixes, the visitors were on the verge of victory.
In the end, South Africa achieved the target in 18.2 overs and handed India a four-wicket defeat.
Hardik’s horrendous day: Hardik Pandya has been in sparkling form since the beginning of the Indian Premier League 2022 but he came a cropper on Sunday both with the ball and the ball. He eked out only 9 off 12 balls while batting, but his bowling was even more listless. The momentum shifted to South Africa in the 11th over as he was creamed for three boundaries. The first one was a fine late-cut by Bavuma, the second was steered behind square and the last one was biffed over covers by Klaasen.
In his next over, he was bludgeoned for a six-over long-on by Klaasen as he kept bowling length balls and could not spear in yorkers.
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