Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
South Africa produced a spectacular all-round performance to crush India by six wickets in the second Twenty20 International in Cuttack. However, the game was marred and postponed twice due to fans throwing bottles onto the pitch.
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis would have been delighted with his decision to bowl first as the Proteas’ bowling attack absolutely ripped through India’s batting line-up.
Opener Rohit Sharma and batsman Suresh Raina were the top-scorers with 22 runs apiece, while Shikhar Dhawan and Ravichandran Ashwin were the only other batsmen to reach double figures. As a result, India were bowled out for a dismal score of 94.
Albie Morkel starred on his return to international cricket as he took three wickets, while Imran Tahir and Chris Morris snapped up two wickets apiece and Kagiso Rabada chipped in with one.
Chasing 95 to win, South Africa did not get off to the best of starts as they were reduced to 49/3 in the eighth over. However, the match took an ugly turn at the start of the 12th over as fans began throwing bottles onto the pitch, which led to a 20-minute delay.
Once the match resumed, South Africa continued to inch ever closer to victory, but the the players left the field two overs later as the fans started throwing bottles onto the pitch once again.
Following a 25-minute delay, play resumed once again and, despite losing Farhaan Behardien for 11, South Africa cruised to victory thanks to all-rounder Jean Paul (JP) Duminy’s unbeaten knock of 30, which came off 39 balls and included three boundaries.
Ashwin was the most successful bowler with three wickets, while Axar Patel claimed one.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was disgusted with his side’s performance, and said: “I don’t think we played good cricket. In the batting department, we just wanted to address run-outs and losing wickets in pairs. We didn’t improve on that. Overall, we didn’t bat well at all. It’s important to address what went wrong. You get performances like these, what’s important is how you bounce back. The calling needs to improve. At times you want to take a chance against the fielder. Sometimes you have to keep the dew factor in mind, because the ball will go to the fielder quicker. You can convert 1.8 runs or 1.9 runs into 2, but not 1.75 or 1.7.
“There was dew, but it’s slightly difficult to say about the bowling combination. There was not enough runs on the board. One thing is for sure, our spinners are bowling well, and that has been our strength. In the coming games, it is important to give some of the other guys a chance, we have some time before the World T20. Amit is bowling really well, but looking at their batsmen, the incoming delivery is something the left-handers are good at, that’s why we went with two off-spinners.”
Du Plessis was delighted to have taken a 2-0 lead, and said: “Look, it’s an easy job to be a captain when your bowlers perform like that. I reckon it’s the best bowling performance we have had as a T20 team. Albie, it’s his 50th game, we are really proud of him for playing that many games, he was really clever with his lines. I thought there was great variety in those first six overs. Imran, I’m not sure he’s ever bowled in the first six. My thinking was just to try and get wickets. You never try and be too predictable as a bowling unit. KG [Rabada] bowled four overs on the trot. He bowled really fast.”
Morkel was named Man of the Match, and said: “I arrived on Friday, during the first T20. One practice session, but it’s nice, it often works out that way, not too much thinking, just come in and play. I think a couple of months ago, I thought I would never get the opportunity to play for SA again, this is my 50th cap. I’m just happy to have played a small part in the series win. Fielding plays a massive role in T20 cricket. We got two of their big guns with two fantastic run-outs. We got wickets anyway, but throw in those run-outs, and that really put us on top. They are a world-class unit, we know what they can do. The series is done now, but I expect them to bounce back in Kolkata.”