Visakhapatnam: Bowlers Harshal Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal helped India stay alive in the Twenty20 international series against South Africa with a crushing 48-run win in the third match on Tuesday.
After the hosts were put in to bat first in Visakhapatnam, openers Ruturaj Gaikwad (57) and the Ishan Kishan (54) added 97 for the first wicket to guide the hosts to 179 for five.
Then, Harshal, who returned his T20 best figures of 4-25, and Chahal shared seven wickets to bowl out South Africa for 131, as India bounced back from their opening two losses.
“I talked about execution and that’s what we saw today, from both batters and bowlers,” Rishabh Pant, who won his first match as India captain, said.
“We thought we were about 15 short but we weren’t thinking too much about that. The bowlers did a fantastic job.”
Batting first, Gaikwad started cautiously before exploding as he hit four boundaries off fast bowler Anrich Nortje in a 20-run fifth over to give the team a blazing start.
He reached his maiden fifty off 30 balls in his sixth T20 for India before left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj finally broke the stand and sent back the batsman with a caught-and-bowled effort.
Kishan changed gears and took on Maharaj with two fours and a six to bring up his fifty in 31 balls.
South African bowlers stike back
The bowlers hit back with two wickets including Kishan falling to fast bowler Pretorius.
David Miller and Rassie van der Dussen dropped outfield catches to allow Hardik Pandya and Pant a life each. But Pant was soon caught by skipper Temba Bavuma for six.
Pandya hit an unbeaten 21-ball 31 to boost the Indian total after Proteas bowlers had attempted to check the scoring at the back end.
Losing wickets regularly
In reply, South Africa lost Bavuma for eight and kept losing wickets including Reeza Hendricks, for 23, and Pretorius, for 20, at regular intervals.
Chahal got Rassie van der Dussen and Pretorius with his leg spin and soon Harshal sent back the in-form David Miller, for three.
Heinrich Klaasen, who hit 81 in his team’s second win, attempted to turn things around with a few boundaries but his departure off Chahal further dimmed South Africa’s hopes. He made 29.
Putting them under pressure
“When you get middle-order batsmen out in the middle overs, the pressure is on them,” said man of the match Chahal.
“Batsmen try a lot of sweeps and reverse sweeps these days so we have to be prepared for that too, as bowlers.”
Harshal returned to wrap up the tail in 19.1 overs.
The fourth match is on Friday in Rajkot.