South Africa pulled off their greatest successful chase in T20I cricket, denying India a record 13th consecutive T20I victory, despite being a batter light in the series opener. South Africa triumphed with five balls to spare owing to David Miller's unbroken half-centuries and Rassie van der Dussen's 131-run fourth-wicket stand, a South African record. The innings was built around an outstanding powerplay, which was led by Dwaine Pretorius' surprise promotion to No. 3.
Run-scoring was quicker than expected on a surface that India's best scorer, Ishan Kishan, described as "not easy." Boundaries were numerous. South Africa scored 17 fours and 14 sixes, compared to 16 fours and 14 sixes for India.
India would have been optimistic in their chances after posting their highest total against South Africa - 211 for 4 - and the highest T20I total at Delhi's Arun Jaitley Stadium. South Africa's batsmen were particularly merciless against their two spinners. Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi, who bowled first, combined for five overs and 70 runs, with Maharaj finishing with his most expensive T20I numbers of 1 for 43.
South Africa responded by scoring 61 runs in the first six overs of their innings. They lost captain Temba Bavuma and Pretorius, but Pretorius' cameo helped them finish the game. Miller kept South Africa in the game during the first half of the partnership, despite a conservative start from van der Dussen and a required run rate of over 14 per over at one point. The two faced Indian fast bowlers at the end of the match, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Harshal Patel surrendering 86 runs in their eight overs.
Kishan turns a rough beginning into a fantastic conclusion:
Despite the high score, India appeared to be struggling, as Kishan missed three of his first four boundaries and played down the wrong line to almost everything else. His opening partner, Ruturaj Gaikwad, was likewise having trouble hitting the ball cleanly. After India scored 36 runs in five overs and survived Wayne Parnell's first genuinely controlled over, he top-edged Anrich Nortje over short fine-leg.
Kishan demonstrated his talent when he dabbed Nortje behind third base and then smoked a drive through the covers to conclude the powerplay with India 51 and no outs. He was unstoppable after that. He slayed the short ball, went down the track to hit Shamsi for six three times, and then blasted Maharaj through the leg-side for 20 runs off four balls before successfully reviewing a lbw call.
Recruiting fluffs is a time-consuming process:
South Africa made four errors, two of which cost them dearly. Gaikwad intercepted a hip-high short ball from Parnell and passed it to Pretorius at long leg immediately after the powerplay. He hit it hard and straight at Pretorius, who couldn't hold the ball as it blasted past his hands for a six. The very next ball, Gaikwad was out.
When Maharaj saw Shreyas Iyer approaching the wicket three balls past the halfway point, he shortened his length, and Quinton de Kock had an opportunity to stump him, but he couldn't break the wicket in time. Iyer began with a score of 25 and finished with a score of 36.
The ball landed between Maharaj, van der Dussen, rookie Tristan Stubbs, and Shamsi as Kishan top-edged a slog-sweep to midwicket. Kishan had 52 points when he added another 24, the majority of which came from Maharaj. There was a possibility to run Rishabh Pant out for a duck at the non-end when he attempted to sneak a run but collided with Rabada on the following delivery. Stubbs, the striker, threw the ball over the fielder on the opposing end. To win the game, Pant hit a 16-ball 29.
Pretorius was promoted:
When Bavuma was removed in the third over, South Africa startled everyone by promoting Pretorius to No. 3 instead of Miller or Stubbs, but a closer look revealed that what appeared to be craziness had some rationale. Pretorius has batted at No. 3 ten times in T20 cricket and once in an international match, scoring a career-best 77*. He hammered the second ball he faced through the covers for four and slog-swept the fifth for six to show what he could do, then took three sixes from Hardik Pandya to confirm it. Before Harshal broke through his defenses with a four-run home run, Pretorius swung hard and got the short, full, and length balls over the leg side.
The pressure is on now that De Kock has been sacked:
De Kock holed out to Kishan at square leg off Axar Patel with South Africa's required rate topping 11 an over, and India intensified the grip. Between Axar, Avesh Khan, and Harshal, they bowled 18 boundary-less deliveries, pushing South Africa's required rate beyond 14 per over.
Van der Dussen shifts his gears:
Miller was expected to be the batter to keep South Africa in the game after his amazing IPL performance, and he delivered. After ending the boundary drought with 10 runs off the last two balls of Harshal's second over, he hammered Axar for a six into the third tier of the stands.
Van der Dussen, on the other hand, who has been criticised for his poor scoring rate, was unable to consistently get the ball away until he fractured the toe-end of his bat and had to replace it. From a no-ball, he smacked Avesh for four and then sent him straight to deep midwicket, but Shreyas lost a simple chance. Van van Dussen, who was on 29 off 30 balls at the time, scored 22 runs off Harshal's third over, including two full-tosses for six, and brought up fifty with a six over deep square leg off the 39th ball he faced. In the next three overs, he lowered the needed run rate to 34, then to 12 in the final over.