JP Duminy smashed 68 from 34 balls to help South Africa to a seven-wicket win over India in the first T20 international of three, at Dharamsala today.
Rohit Sharma hit a first T20I ton for India with 106 off 66 balls as the home side set South Africa 200 to win.
But he was outdone by Duminy’s knock –– which contained seven sixes and a four –– and fifty from AB de Villiers (51 off 32 balls) as the visitors took a 1-0 lead in the series.
South Africa won the toss and chose to field first and give their bowlers first use of a quick, bouncy surface, but barring a strong lbw shout from Kyle Abbott against Sharma in the first over, the Indian batsman benefited from the extra pace onto the bat.
Sharma made amends for running out his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan by pummeling the Proteas attack, he and Virat Kohli (43 off 27) particularly strong pulling, managing to hoist the ball repeatedly for six over the legside.
It was in the 12th over of the Indian innings where the pair truly cut lose though as Sharma first brought up the hosts’ hundred with a huge slog-sweep off Imran Tahir for six, before Kohli added two further maximums off the leg-spinner.
Sharma smashed another pair of sixes in Kagiso Rabada’s next over, before reaching his hundred with a glorious straight six off Marchant de Lange soon after.
The partnership was finally broken in the 16th over as Abbott (2-29) –– who was impressive throughout –– dismissed both set batsmen to mistimed pull shots which belied their success with the stroke earlier in the innings.
Suresh Raina quickly smashed a pair of sixes before he was trapped lbw by Chris Morris in the penultimate over and when Ambati Rayudu was then run-out first ball, India’s innings was somewhat sputtering to a finish.
But MS Dhoni signed it off in style with a straight six off the final ball to set South Africa 200 to win.
Hashim Amla got the visitors’ reply off to a good start with two boundaries off the first over, and De Villiers at the other end charged out of his crease to cream a six over wide long-on in the second over.
It was a sign of things to come as De Villiers feasted on anything short-and-wide – of which the Indian bowlers offered plenty early on –– as South Africa scored 60 in the first five overs.
Dhoni dropped Amla with a difficult chance behind the stumps off Axar Patel, but it didn’t cost his side too much as Amla was run-out soon after in the eighth over.
De Villiers went through to a well-deserved fifty with a sublime drive to the midwicket boundary for four, but fell the very next ball, bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin attempting an ugly hoick that contrasted greatly with his previous shot.
Sreenath Aravind –– on debut –– took his maiden international wicket as Faf du Plessis chopped onto his stumps in the next over, and suddenly the visitors were struggling at 95-3 just past the halfway mark of their innings.
After 12 overs, South Africa required 96 from the final eight overs, but JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien (32 off 23) turned the game with an unbroken 105-run partnership.
Duminy in particular tucked into the Indian attack, smashing Patel for three sixes in a row in the 16th over that reduced the runs required to a more manageable 44 from the final four overs.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar thought he had Duminy trapped lbw in the next over and although it looked absolutely plumb on replay, the left-hander survived and was able to see his side home in style.