India 179 for 5 (Gaikwad 57, Kishan 54, Pretorius 2-29) beat South Africa 131 (Klaasen 29, Harshal 4-25, Chahal 3-20) by 48 runs
South Africa’s defeat was only their second in the last 15 T20Is and their first in the previous eight matches while chasing. They needed a strong start and someone to bat through, but were 38 for 2 in the powerplay and no-one scored more than Heinrich Klaasen’s 29.
India’s spinners applied significant pressure for the first time in the series, on the slowest surface so far. Chahal and Axar Patel gave away only 45 runs between them for seven wickets to give Rishabh Pant his first win as captain.
India were off to a solid but unspectacular start until Anrich Nortje came on to bowl the fifth over and Gaikwad got hold of him. Nortje started in signature fashion – short – but also bowled it wide and Gaikwad only had to stand and cut to find the boundary. Nortje delivered the next ball on a length, and Gaikwad charged down and lofted him over mid-on, prompting Nortje to default back to the bouncer. His third ball came in viciously from outside off and took the grille of Gaikwad’s helmet and raced to the third-man rope. Gaikwad was given the runs, but later taken away as leg-byes, even as he had to have a concussion test.
He was cleared to continue, and seemed just fine, as he flicked away Nortje’s follow-up, a full ball, through midwicket. Nortje moved his line closer to the stumps for the fifth ball but Gaikwad made room and opened the face of the bat late to steer the ball to short third man. Tabraiz Shamsi was stationed there and although he would have had to make good ground to take the catch, he should have stopped the ball going through his hands and to the boundary. Gaikwad swung and missed the sixth ball as Nortje saved some face. Gaikwad went on to bring up his fifty off 30 balls.
Shamsi v Shreyas
Shreyas Iyer has yet to look entirely convincing in this series and scored his first runs in this innings with a top edge off Nortje that went for six. Shreyas was much more in control of his next runs, when he skipped down the track to launch Shamsi over mid-off. The spinner had already been hit for 23 runs in his first two overs and was not having as good a time as he would have liked to celebrate his 50th T20I. But he thought he had turned things around when three balls later, Shreyas was given out lbw as he tried to sweep. Shreyas reviewed immediately, with replays indicating that he had gloved the ball. Just when Shamsi may have thought his night wouldn’t improve, Shreyas swept again, but didn’t keep it down and Nortje timed his jump perfectly at square leg to take the catch.
Two drops and some damage
It’s not like South Africa to put down chances and it’s even less like Miller and Rassie van der Dussen but they were both guilty of mistakes. Miller’s was the simpler of the two, when Hardilk Pandya, on 1, sliced Shamsi on the off side and he only had to hold on, but couldn’t. van der Dussen’s required running in from deep backward point when Pant, on 4, slashed at a wide Dwaine Pretorius delivery. He got to the ball but it popped out of his hands. van der Dussen’s drop only cost two runs when, later in Pretorius’ over, Pant again lofted the seamer over the offside. Bavuma ran back from mid-off to take the catch. Pandya’s let-off was more costly. He went on to score 31 runs and help India take 41 off the last five, to push the total over 175.
Poor in the powerplay
Without Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram, the spotlight was always going to shine brightly on South Africa’s opening pair and their strike rates. Temba Bavuma and Reeza Hendricks’ career strike-rates sit at 121.75 and 121.44 respectively and both struggled to get going against a classic Bhuvneshwar Kumar opening spell. He swung the ball both ways to deliver two overs for seven runs but was taken off by Pant, who has developed a habit of replacing bowlers who are applying pressure. Bhuvneshwar’s squeeze worked – Bavuma was caught at mid-on as he tried to clear the in field off Axar. Hendricks edged Chahal, but the chance didn’t carry to slip, before he swung at a Harshal slower ball and was caught at mid-off to end the powerplay on 38 for 2.
No middle-order hero this time
van der Dussen was dismissed for 1 when he was caught behind off a Chahal delivery that turned away from him as he tried to cut and two overs later Pretorius went in a similar way but it was only when Miller was done in by a slower ball from Harshal that South Africa’s middle order was opened up for the first time in the series.
Wayne Parnell came in at No.7, with South Africa needing 109 runs from nine overs. He had Klaasen at the other end but Chahal had the final say. In his final over, Chahal tossed it up, inviting Klaasen to go big but he could only get the ball as far as Axar at extra cover, to all but end South Africa’s chase in the 15th over. India proceeded to secure their biggest victory (in terms of runs) over South Africa in T20Is.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent