India skipper Rishabh Pant was delighted with the execution of plans by his team in registering a comprehensive 82-run victory over South Africa at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium here on Friday.
In India's big win, Dinesh Karthik slammed a blistering 27-ball 55, his highest score in the format and shared a 65-run stand with Hardik Pandya (46 off 31 balls) in propelling the hosts to a competitive 169/6 on a pitch which had some movement for seamers, hint of turn of spinners and variable bounce emerging as a constant factor.
With the ball, Avesh Khan picked 4/18, his career-best figures in the format, to bowl out South Africa for 87 in 16.5 overs. All of this happened despite India losing their top-order in the first seven overs and unable to win the toss for the fourth straight time in the series.
"We talked about execution and playing better cricket and here are the results. Whichever team plays better cricket wins the game. Maybe I will toss with the right hand in the next game and be positive," said Pant after the match.
Though Pant fell for 17 and falling to the wide-ball trap set for him in the series, he had reasons to be pleased, thanks to Pandya and Karthik as winner takes it all clash awaits India in Bengaluru on Sunday.
"Really happy with the way Hardik put up a show. DK (Karthik) went for the kill rightaway and that gave us the positivity. As an individual I can look to improve in certain areas. Not too concerned though; looking to take the positives and looking to improve. Let's see what happens in Bangalore. Looking forward to give our 100%."
With regular skipper Temba Bavuma unable to come for the post-match presentation due to him being treated for an elbow injury which forced him to retire hurt, his deputy Keshav Maharaj was left to rue the lack of adaptability by the visitors in seemingly different conditions of Rajkot.
"Obviously didn't go according to plan in the last few overs, but we felt the pitch got a bit better at the end. It is the lack of adaptability on our side. We need to be a bit more proactive," said Maharaj after the match.
Maharaj admitted that South Africa's batting never got going in chasing 170 as they missed a chance of sealing the series in their favour at Rajkot. "We stifled ourselves in the powerplay. We didn't get any partnerships and just exploded. Their bowlers bowled really well too. DK played really well at the end but we need to have better plans and adapt better."
"India is a tough place for spinners to bowl with small grounds. There will be a lot of buzz at the ground in Bangalore. Expect it to be a cracker."
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