In India's first T20I encounter, Dinesh Karthik made his T20I debut. In the year 2006, Before there was a World Cup, before there was an IPL, and before there was even a bilateral series, this format was played in bilateral series.
He has finally reached his first half-century in the format, after 16 years and 36 matches. And he did it in India's biggest win over South Africa, and the fifth-largest in T20Is, to tie the series at 2-2 heading into Sunday's decider.
Karthik's century came in the penultimate over, following a 65-run partnership for the fifth wicket between Karthik and Hardik Pandya off just 33 balls, which resurrected India after they were reduced to 81 for 4 in the 13th over. India scored 73 runs in their final five overs for a total of 169 for 6, which was more than enough for their bowling attack to defend.
Most of India's lineup struggled on an inconsistent bounce surface until Hardik and Karthik teamed together. Hardik focused on the spinners and slower balls, while Karthik pounced on anything with width, and the duo guided India to a competitive score, albeit one that they may have deemed slightly under-par at the halfway stage. South Africa's line-up, on the other hand, was unable to adjust to the pitch's pace or India's bowling and were removed for their lowest score in T20Is.
They had one 20-run partnership but crumbled after their captain, Temba Bavuma, retired with an elbow injury, and they lost their final five wickets for just 13 runs. Only three of their batters reached double digits in the batter's box. Except for Hardik, all of India's bowlers let up 5.25 runs per over or less, although seamer Avesh Khan stood out. In the final over of the powerplay, he dismissed Dwaine Pretorius, who appears to have become a permanent pinch-hitter at No. 3, and then grabbed three wickets in the third over to end with career-best figures of 4 for 18.
India 169 for 6 (Karthik 55, Hardik 46, Ngidi 2-20) beat South Africa 87 (Avesh 4-18, Chahal 2-21) by 82 runs