India ticked all the boxes when it mattered most and crushed South Africa by 48 points in the third T20 International to win to stay alive in the five-game series here on Tuesday.
Yuzvendra Chahal (3/20) and Harshal Patel (4/25) led the way with the ball after sizzling half-centuries from Ruturaj Gaikwad (57) and Ishan Kishan (54) propelled India to 179 for five.
The bowlers came on long after fly-half Gaikwad turned things around with a scintillating shot and Ishan scored his second fifty of the series.
Under scanner for his spotty form lately, Gaikwad hit two highs and seven fours in his 35-ball drive, and Ishan also scored his runs on 35-ball after being asked to take the first strike.
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Defending the total, skipper Rishabh Pant introduced the spinners early and Axar Patel produced the first breakthrough with a fuller delivery as Temba Bavuma (8) broke through against Avesh Khan at 4th over.
Chahal was rewarded for his fast bowling as he got an extra rebound from the wicket to get the better of Rassie van der Dussen (1), Dwaine Pretorius (20) and Heinrich Klassen (29).
Harshal mixed his deliveries well to first knock out Reeza Hendricks (23) and David Miller (3), then came back to finish things off with wickets from Kagiso Rabada (9) and Tabraiz Shamsi (0) as Africa du Sud was grouped for 131.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/21) also played with a lot of heart.
Earlier, Gaikwad and Ishan hit two sixes apiece and shared 12 boundaries to set the platform, but South Africa tightened the screws in the second half to keep India within 180.
It was Gaikwad, who became the aggressor after a watchful start and exploded in fifth, slamming five successive boundaries at Anrich Nortje.
If the first cut with aplomb, it danced down the track for the second four. The third boundary was lucky as the ball hit his gate as Gaikwad tried to get away from an ugly bouncer.
Gaikwad then punished Nortje for throwing a half volley and the fifth ball was sent to the third man.
The Maharashtra slugger also laid down Dwaine Pretorius on a deep square back for his second six as India posted 57 for no loss in six overs, their best power play of the series.
Ishan, who was playing second fiddle, came into the act at ninth over, hitting Shamsi’s overthrown ball for a max before sweeping it for four more as 13 runs came from over.
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Gaikwad completed his fifty in 30-ball and then hosted Keshav Maharaj with a backhand lift for a four, but the spinner had him catch his own bowling with India on 97 for a halfway.
Ishan then gave Maharaj special treatment, collecting two fours and a six en route with a 50 from 31, his second in the series.
New man Shreyas Iyer looked in good contact as he blasted a six each on Nortje and Shamsi, but the spinner sent it back with Nortje timing his jump to perfection for a nice catch.
Pretorius pegged India further by disposing of Ishan, who was caught by Hendricks.
It could have been five goals, but David Miller and Rassie van der Dussen dropped two keepers to give life to Hardik Pandya (29) and Rishabh Pant (6).
Temba Bavuma finally caught one on Pretorius to take out Pant as South Africa slowed things down.
The hosts managed just 20 runs while losing two more wickets at 13-17 before Hardik Pandya took them close to 180 with some vigorous blows in the closing stages.
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Post expires at 7:17pm on Friday June 24th, 2022