The fans who flocked to Guwahati to see the second T20I between India and South Africa were treated to an absolute run fest, with the match producing the 6th highest aggregate runs in T20I cricket.
By the end of it, India had emerged victors by 17 runs and had clinched the series, having also won the first game between the pair in Thiruvananthapuram.
Surprisingly, that is the first time they have beaten the South Africans at home in a T20I series.
Things did not go as smoothly as local organisers would have liked.
The stadium was plunged into partial darkness during South Africa’s run chase, delaying play for 18 minutes whilst one of the floodlights was repaired. That followed a similar problem with the media contingent facilities before the start of the game.
And when India were batting, it was the turn of a snake to make an unexpected appearance on the field of play, emerging to scare Wayne Parnell, who was fielding at extra cover, before ground staff were able to capture it in a bucket.
However, those incidents did little to diminish the night’s entertainment.
It was the tourists who won the toss and decided to field first on a flat pitch, but the wisdom of that move soon was called into question as the Indian opening pair of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul put on 96 for the first wicket in less than ten overs.
Sharma departed for 43 and Rahul fell for 57, but it was when Suryakumar Yadav came to the crease that the accelerator was really pressed. He had already struck more sixes in a calendar year in T20I cricket than anybody in history, but he extended his lead over his challengers with five more as he blasted 61 off just 22 balls, with five fours into the bargain.
He will be challenging to top the ICC T20I batting rankings when they are next released.
At the other end, Virat Kohli was hardly passive himself, and he finished unbeaten on 49 scored off 28 balls. With Dinesh Karthik playing a brief cameo at the end which included 2 sixes of his own, India were able to post a massive 237/3 from their 20 overs.
When South Africa lost two wickets in the space of three balls in the second over bowled by Arshdeep Singh, their task seemed hopeless. To their credit, though, they made an excellent attempt at it. Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram put on 46 for the third wicket, and, after Markram was dismissed for 33, de Kock was joined in the middle by David Miller.
Indian audiences already know what Miller can do from his time spent in the Indian T20 league playing for the Punjab Kings, the Rajasthan Royals, and this season, the victorious Gujarat Titans. But he showed the franchise owners why they should be renewing his contract with a brilliant display of hitting, making an unbeaten 106 off 47 balls, finishing with 7 sixes and 8 fours in the scorebook.
With de Kock he shared an unbeaten partnership of 174 for the fourth wicket, which, in most circumstances, would have been enough to win the match. On this occasion, though, they fell short.
Key talking points
Not a night for bowlers
This was not a night for bowlers on either side and few will be in a hurry to look up their figures again from this match in the record books. However, Keshav Maharaj, who took 2 – 23 for South Africa, and India’s Deepak Chahar, who only conceded 24 runs from his four overs, can take some credit amidst the carnage that was happening all around them.
More batting records
Yadav, in the course of his innings, also brought up 1000 runs in T20I cricket, whilst Virat Kohli chalked up another milestone, completing 11,000 T20 runs. The former Indian captain appears back to his best form, which is good news ahead of the World Cup.
Rahul answering his critics
KL Rahul has had more than his fair share of critics in recent months, with many ready to question his place in the team. However, he found some form in the Australian series and made a fine unbeaten 51 in the first match against the Proteas. A second successive half century proved again his worth to the team, especially as his 57 came off just 28 balls, and included 4 sixes, helping India get off to just the sort of fast start they need in T20I cricket.
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