David Miller and Rassie van der Dussen starred with the bat as South Africa beat India by seven wickets in the first T20i in Delhi on Thursday.
Cape Town — For the past two months, David Miller has had all of India on their feet in delight due to his power-hitting for the Gujarat Titans in the Indian Premier League.
On Thursday night, they sat in silence at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi when Miller turned on the magic for the Proteas to propel South Africa to a stunning seven-wicket victory over India in the series-opening T20I international.
Miller clubbed 64 not out off just 34 balls in a 131-run partnership with Rassie van der Dussen (75 not off 46 balls) as South Africa won a match they had no business winning.
Set a record 212 for victory after Ishan Kishan’s 76 had earlier entertained the capacity crowd, South Africa slipped 92/3 after 11 overs leaving 120 runs required from the remaining 54 balls at an imposing rate of 13.33 per over.
The mountain seemed even steeper due to Van der Dussen’s timing completely deserting him at that stage of the innings. Fortunately for Van der Dussen, and South Africa, Miller was striking it sweetly at the other end to keep them in contention almost single-handedly.
Two sixes and boundary off Axar Patel created the momentum that Miller ran with all the way through.
However, if South Africa were to get over the line, they needed Van der Dussen to break the shackles at the other end too. It required a touch of good fortune with Shreyas Iyer dropping Van der Dussen on the mid-wicket boundary. Van der Dussen had 30 off 30 balls at that juncture.
It proved to be the turning point in the entire contest with Van der Dussen suddenly rediscovering his timing as his next 16 balls yielded 45 runs as the visitors ultimately coasted home with five balls remaining.
South Africa had showed positive intent from the outset in the run-chase despite captain Temba Bavumu falling cheaply early on.
Dwaine Pretorius was promoted to No.3 in the batting line-up to maximise the Powerplay and proved significant with the all-rounder smashing a 13-ball 20 that included four sixes and a boundary. His 39-run partnership of just 18 balls with Quinton de Kock (22) ensured South Africa kept pace with the required run-rate at 61/2 after the conclusion of the Powerplay.
The South Africa’s bowling unit had earlier discovered that the conditions were firmly in the batter’s favour with Kishan setting the tone upfront for the hosts.
The Mumbai Indians opener may have benefited from a missed stumping by his good mate De Kock off Keshav Maharaj, but he was supremely entertaining throughout his 48-ball 76 (11×4, 3×6).
It was unfortunate that Maharaj was actually the bowler that suffered the most with Kishan smashing 20 runs off five balls before he was eventually caught at long-on by Proteas debutant Tristan Stubbs.
Kishan’s half-century was the platform that allowed Ruturaj Gaikwad (23), Iyer (36), Rishabh Pant (29) to play freely before Hardik Pandya’s 12-ball 31 not out propelled India to 211/4.
Despite South Africa conceding a record total, there were positives going forward with the returning Wayne Parnell (1/32) and Anrich Nortjé (1/36) showing good control even when the Indian batters were on the rampage.
They will hope to take this confidence-builder into the next game in Cuttack on Sunday.
India: 211/4 (Kishan 76, Iyey 36, Pandya 31*, Parnell 1/32)
South Africa: 212/3 (Van der Dussen 75*, Miller 64*)
South Africa won by seven wickets, lead series 1-0