India vs South Africa 2nd ODI: Dhoni helps India level series

Dhoni was named Man of the Match for his superb knock of 92 not out

Dhoni was named Man of the Match for his superb knock of 92 not out

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni led by example as he smashed an unbeaten 92 to not only guide his side to a 22-run win over South Africa in the second ODI in Indore, but also level the series at 1-1.

Dhoni was well supported by Ajinkya Rahane, who scored 51.

However, South Africa batsman Faf du Plessis deserves some credit as he made a valiant 51.

Dhoni would not have been thrilled with his decision to bat first early on as India got off to a horrible start and began losing wickets at regular intervals.

Rahane kept South Africa at bay for a while with his knock of 51, which came off 63 balls and included six boundaries, before Dhoni took over.

Rahane smashed six boundaries during his innings of 51

Rahane smashed six boundaries during his innings of 51

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Despite losing numerous partners, Dhoni brought up his half-century and started to up the ante from there. As his innings progressed, he began to look more like the Dhoni of old as he became increasingly aggressive.

In the end, Dhoni finished on 92 off 86 balls, which included seven boundaries and four sixes, to carry India to 247/9 off their 50 overs.

Dale Steyn was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while Morne Morkel and Imran Tahir took two wickets apiece and Kagiso Rabada chipped in with one.

Chasing 248 to win, South Africa got off to a solid start before the wheels started to fall off and their innings went haywire.

Du Plessis tried to steer his side back in the right direction with his innings of 51, which came off 56 balls and included six boundaries, but it was no use as the Proteas carried on losing batsmen cheaply, which ultimately resulted in them falling short of their target as they were bowled out for 225.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Axar Patel snapped up three wickets apiece, while Harbhajan Singh got two and Umesh Yadav and Mohit Sharma claimed one wicket each.

South Africa skipper AB de Villiers was less than impressed with his side’s performance, and said: “They pulled it off across the line, credit to India. The target was manageable and a poor batting performance from us. We couldn’t extend it after the opening partnership and we have the experience. You have to stay positive no matter what total you are chasing, we couldn’t execute well. Very good performance from out bowlers, would have loved to chase something like 200. Nothing too serious about my back, just pulled my lower back a bit and should be fit for the next match.”

Dhoni, who was named Man of the Match, was delighted to have levelled the series at 1-1, and said: “Not an easy game played, a lot of people wait with open swords and want you to make mistakes. We should have got more with the bat and we didn’t start well with our bowling, but our spinners did well and pacers also came into action later on. Overall not a very convincing win but a good win, we can play a lot better. We’re not playing to our capacity, not even 80%, in batting or bowling. As a complete batting unit we didn’t perform well but we bounced back well. We knew we needed two good deliveries when Tahir and Rabada were batting. I won’t say the game was in our hands but we had a good chance if we bowled in the right areas and needed only two good deliveries.

“It doesn’t always go your way (talking about his batting), the top order has been scoring loads of runs in the last 2-2.5 years so lower order doesn’t get a big chance to bat. Apart from Suresh there’s nobody who loves to do that kind of a job when you go out and you just have to go for the big hits. The pace was very important on this wicket and the length too. Axar is not a big turner of the ball and he pitched it in the right areas. Bhajji has the experience and they didn’t try too many different things and flighting or under-flighting the ball was needed and overall they did a good job.”

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