After decimating the hosts 5-1 in the ODI series, the Indians were full of confidence heading into the T20 series. South Africa, on the other hand, had a point to prove, considering the fact that they went down so easily at home, right after winning the test Series. Would the Proteas bounce back? Or would Virat Kohli and his men continue their juggernaut?
1st T20, Johannesburg– Dhawan, Bhuvi shine as India take a lead
On a flat pitch in Johannesburg, India piled up a more than competitive 203-5, thanks to a destructive 72 from Dhawan, which proved to be too big a task for the Proteas as India won by 28 runs. After a quick start by the Indians which yielded 78 runs in the Powerplay, India could muster only 125 runs from their remaining 14 overs, despite having 8 wickets in hand. But even 204 seemed a target too far for the South Africans. Their only hope was Hendricks, who played a terrific innings of 70 off just 50 balls, but ultimately fell to the pressure of the asking rate. The standout bowler for India was Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who took a scarcely believable 5 wickets for just 24 runs in his quota of 4 overs, as he was rightly awarded the Man of the Match award.
2nd T20, Centurion– South Africa bounce back thanks to Classy Klaasen and Duminy
Not often do we see the top 3 of Dhawan, Rohit and Kohli fail to score runs in the same game. But after the aforementioned happened, and India was reduced to 45-3, up stood Manish Pandey and veteran MS Dhoni (thereby proving his doubters wrong, once again!) as India recovered to post a dominant 188-4 at the end of 20 overs. Even an optimistic fan would have given his team little chance of overcoming that total. However, what was on display from the Proteas was a kind of spirit and fight that was lacking in abundance in the ODI series. Captain Duminy (64) and Klaasen (69) played terrific knocks as the South Africans chased the target with 6 wickets and 8 balls remaining. What was pleasing to see, particularly for the South African fans, was the manner in which both the batsmen took on Chahal, who has been close to unplayable on this tour, and dispatched him to all parts of the park. 1-1 in the series, onto the decider at Cape Town!
3rd T20, Cape Town– India win a cliffhanger to take the series 2-1!
With Virat out with a back injury and Rohit named as stand-in captain, this seemed the best bet for the Proteas to deliver a performance that would satisfy not only their fans but also themselves. But they did little to help themselves. Despite a spirited performance from debutant Jonker and captain Duminy, South Africa ultimately fell short in their pursuit of 173. After winning the toss and putting the visitors in to bat first, India got off to a decent start, scoring around 80 runs in the first 10 overs. The biggest positive was the return to form for Suresh Raina, a fan favorite, as he smashed his way to a delightful 43 off just 27 balls, helping India put up a competitive 172 on the board. South Africa began slowly, thanks to some tight bowling from the Indians. This ultimately hurt the Proteas, despite some terrific batting in the death overs by Jonker, as they succumbed to another defeat, thereby giving up the T20 series as well.
Most Runs – Shikhar Dhawan – 143 Runs at average of 47.67.
Most Wickets- Bhuvneshwar Kumar – 7 wickets at average of 9.57
Player of the series – Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Fifth Umpire Champion of the series – JP Duminy – 122 runs at average of 61 including 2 half centuries.
Another series, another defeat for the Proteas. But this time not without a fight. Though the result could have been in favor of the hosts, the fact that they gave the Indians a run for their money, especially after the damaging defeat in the ODI series, was commendable. Duminy’s form is a big plus for the hosts, heading into the series with Australia, while the emergence of keeper-batsman Klaasen has come at the perfect time, with de Kock injured and in desperate need of a few runs.
There isn’t much to tell about the Indians, as the results and performances speak for themselves. After going 2-0 down in the test series, the kind of turnaround they have produced, with some dominating and comprehensive victories in between, is something noteworthy. The Kohli show was expected and will continue to be expected in the near future, but the performances of the bowlers, with the spinners in particular, has made India a team to be feared not only in the shorter formats of the game, but also in tests. The tough test is yet to come, with tours to England and Australia scheduled later this year!