Dinesh Karthik brought out finishing fireworks at the back end of the innings to smack a career-best 55 off 27 balls as India posted a competitive 169 for 6 in 20 overs against South Africa at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium here on Friday.
At 56/3 in ten overs, India stared at a low total. But Karthik opened up after taking some balls to get going and shared a 65-run stand off 33 balls with Hardik Pandya (46 off 31 balls) while hitting nine fours and two sixes at a strike rate of 203.7 to lift India to a respectable score.
Opting to bowl first, Lungi Ngidi provided the breakthrough for South Africa when his back-of-the-length ball seamed away from Ruturaj Gaikwad, who pushed hesitantly. But the extra bounce took the edge behind to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, leading to Gaikwad departing for just five.
Shreyas Iyer's struggle against South Africa seamers continued when he was trapped lbw by an inswinger from debutant left-arm pacer Marco Jansen and departed with only four runs by his name as South Africa changed the on-field call via DRS.
From the other end, it was business as usual for Ishan Kishan. The left-hander began by flicking Jansen through mid-wicket before bringing out the pull for a huge six. In the fifth over, Kishan again went after Jansen, picking back-to-back fours through square-leg and fine-leg as India closed their power-play at 40/2.
On the very first ball post power-play, Kishan tried to glide over the third man off Anrich Nortje. But the extra bounce on the back of the length ball from the pacer meant he could only edge behind to de Kock. With South Africa nailing their hard lengths and coupled with the variable bounce as well as a hint of movement, Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya found it hard to break free despite the India skipper getting a brace of boundaries.
Pant was almost dismissed in the 12th over when Maharaj flew to his right at a backward point but couldn't hold on. Hardik Pandya closed the over by clobbering Tabraiz Shamsi for successive wristy sixes over mid-wicket.
In an attempt to up the ante, Pant was down on one knee and tried to swipe a wide delivery off Keshav Maharaj in the 13th over. But the ball took a top-edge to short third man, making it Pant's fourth straight dismissal to balls wide of off-stump. After sweeping Maharaj for a boundary, Karthik smacked Anrich Nortje for a brace of fours through the off-side while Pandya cut through backward point to take 15 runs off the 16th over.
Karthik went to smash three fours off Maharaj through sweep, reverse sweep and bisecting long-on and long-off perfectly. It was Pretorius' turn to be taken to cleaners by Karthik, slogging over deep square leg, followed by a brace of fours with cut and sweep.
Though Pandya fell by slicing to running the third man off Ngidi, Karthik hit another boundary and brought up his fifty by smoking Pretorius over cow corner for six. In an attempt to get another six, Karthik brought out slog-sweep but picked deep square leg to perfection. Axar Patel ended the innings with a boundary on the final ball as India made 73 runs in the last five overs.
Brief scores: India 169/6 in 20 overs (Dinesh Karthik 55, Hardik Pandya 46; Lungi Ngidi 2/20, Anrich Nortje 1/21) against South Africa
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