Continuing their resurgence from Vizag, where they beat the visitors by 48 runs, a relentless, ruthless India, cheered on by 28,000-plus enthusiastic fans at the SCA Stadium here on Friday, blew away South Africa by 82 runs in the fourth T20I to square the series after being down 0-2. India’s comeback makes them the favourites to win the final game in Bangalore on Sunday and clinch the series against an increasingly vulnerable-looking SA.
Riding on Dinesh Karthik’s magical 55 (27b; 9×4, 2×6) and Hardik Pandya’s 46 (31b; 3×4, 3×6), the hosts scored 169/6, a total which looked impossible when the hosts were tottering at 56/3 after the first 10 overs. Thereafter, making the ball bounce menacingly, seamer Avesh Khan, who was under pressure after having gone wicketless while conceding 87 runs in 11 overs coming into this match, produced a fiery spell, taking 4/18 off his four overs, which included 15 dot balls, to send South Africa crashing to 87 all out in just 16.5 overs. This is SA’s lowest score in T20Is.
It was a terrific comeback by the 25-year-old Avesh, who said he would dedicate the performance to his father Ashique Khan on his birthday.
To add insult to injury for SA, captain Temba Bavuma didn’t come back to bat after retiring hurt following a hit on the elbow. He now looks doubtful for the series decider.
.@DineshKarthik put on an impressive show with the bat & bagged the Player of the Match award as #TeamIndia beat So… https://t.co/4P5HGV2JzB
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1655487167000
Continuing his fairytale, inspirational comeback, which began when he showed blazing form as a destructive finisher for RCB in the IPL, Karthik produced yet another masterpiece which is surely enough evidence to guarantee a ticket on the plane to Australia for the T20 World Cup.
Clinical win for #TeamIndia in Rajkot! 👏 👏The @RishabhPant17-led unit beat South Africa by 82 runs to level the s… https://t.co/cbKVyK5XPw
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1655485422000
Showing that age is just a number, the 37-yearold took India to total which looked impossible initially for the hosts on a wicket which wasn’t the typical Rajkot ‘road’, with the ball gripping the surface and bouncing awkwardly following a short, sharp shower just before the game commenced.
Walking in when India had slipped to 81/4 in the 13th over with their skipper Rishabh Pant (17) failing for the fourth time in the series, Karthik, who smashed his maiden T20I half-century, added 65 for the fourth wicket in just 33 balls with Hardik Pandya (46; 31b, 3×4, 3×6) in a partnership which completely changed the complexion of the game.
Launching a blistering onslaught on the bewildered South African bowlers, the duo helped India plunder 73 off the last five overs, as Pandya too produced his career-best T20I score. It was an assault which left the Proteas, looking to wrap up the series here, shell shocked!
Karthik isn’t someone who bludgeons the ball like the big-hitting West Indians, or a Tim David or Liam Livingstone. Using the angles smartly, he can be equally deadly while unleashing his strokeplay, sweeping, cutting and carting the Proteas bowlers to all corners of the ground.