Dinesh Karthik scored a maiden T20I half-century and Hardik Pandya smashed a handy 46 to help India recover from a few early blows against South Africa in the fourth T20I at Rajkot. For the Proteas, who can win the series in this game itself, the bowlers were on the money, with Lungi Ngidi starting things off and finishing with 2 wickets. Only Tabraiz Shamsi could not pick a wicket, as India posted 169/6.
Batting first, India’s start was very unlike the previous encounter, as they lost wickets and were pegged back in the powerplay. A cracking start from Lungi Ngidi meant Ruturaj Gaikwad was caught behind for 5 in the second over.
In the next over, Shreyas Iyer dismissed by Marco Jansen for 4, as India huffed and puffed to 40/2 at the end of the powerplay. The first delivery of the next over had the crowd silenced as Ishan Kishan was packed off for 27, caught behind of Anrich Nortje.
Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya had the task of rebuilding, and over by over they went about their job, absorbing the pressure and hoping to set up for a big finish. Pant and Hardik played out a few quiet overs in the middle as South Africa’s bowlers kept it out of their hitting arc.
While Hardik looked to break free with a couple of big sixes in the 12th over, Pant at the other end wasn’t able to get going. Keshav Maharaj floated one outside off stump and Pant took the bait and miscued the shot and was caught for 17. The duo put on 41 runs. India lost their fourth wicket and the pressure was well and truly on Hardik.
Hardik and Dinesh Karthik for company, and they took stock in the 15th over before going through the gears after that. Nortje and Maharaj were both taken to the cleaners as India crossed the 100-run mark with ease and powered along in the crucial final phase of the innings. DK was showing the kind of form he had in the IPL with RCB, which meant danger for SA. Soon enough, DK had over taken Hardik’s score and both were inching close to well deserved half-centuries.
In the 19th, Hardik hammered Ngidi for a six and then off the next delivery was caught at third man for 46, with 10 balls to go. In the final over, Karthik clobbered Dwaine Pretorius into the stands to get to his maiden fifty in T20Is before being castled off the next, caught at deep square leg for 55. After the wicket, Harshal Patel and Axar Patel added 10 more to get to 169/6. India scored 73 runs in the last five overs.