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Fifties by Pant, Rahul Helps India Post 287/6 Against SA in Must Win 2nd ODI

Virat Kohli was dismissed for a duck by Keshav Maharaj.

Updated
Cricket
3 min read
Fifties by Pant, Rahul Helps India Post 287/6 Against SA in Must Win 2nd ODI
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Rishabh Pant played a superb hand, scoring 85 crucial runs for India while the rest of the batting failed to get going, including the likes of KL Rahul (55) and Virat Kohli (0) in the second ODI against South Africa at Paarl.

While Pant counter-attacked at number 4, it was Shardul Thakur’s handy contribution of 40 not out lower down the order that helped India post a competitive 287/6. A win for SA from here will mean they clinch the series with a game to go.

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Having won the toss and opted to bat first, India began at brisk pace with Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul on the move from the get go. While Dhawan was the more aggressive batter in the partnership, Rahul played with patience.

The left hander, who scored 79 in the first ODI, picked up from where he had left off and was troubling SA’s bowlers a fair bit in the early phase of the innings. The openers wasted no chances and quickly brought up the half-century stand in the 9th over of the innings, as India looked set to pile on the runs.

However, South Africa struck as Temba Bavuma turned to his spinners and it was Dhawan who was the first to fall. The southpaw scored 29, hitting five boundaries, before an attempted hoick over the legside off Aiden Markram landed safely in the hands of the new man Sisanda Magala.

Virat Kohli checked into the game on the back off that and checked out an over later, playing an uppish drive off Keshav Maharaj which Bavuma gleefully held on to at short cover. Kohli was sent packing for a duck as SA fought back.

In walked Rishabh Pant at number 4, joining captain KL Rahul, and the duo had their task cut out, and almost gifted South Africa another wicket. Both batters were at the same end after a moment of miscommunication but the Proteas could not capitalise with Maharaj unable to collect the ball at the bowlers’ end.

Pant and Rahul recovered from then on in and while one counter attacked the skipper continued to be watchful, as they thwarted SA’s bowlers. Rahul was more than happy to keep the scoreboard moving at his end while Pant made the Proteas pay for the missed run-out, attacking the slower bowlers regularly as the duo piled on the runs.

Pant completed his fifty of 43 deliveries before going through the gears, being particularly severe on the spinners, helping resurrect the innings, at good clip. The duo put on a 115-run stand for the third wicket as India rode that and reached 171/2 at the end of 30 overs, perfectly placed to accelerate in the second half of the innings.

South Africa though had other ideas, 8 runs later, Rahul was dismissed by Magala for 55, caught by Rassie van der Dussen and 4 more runs later, the fluent Pant’s innings came to an end as well. The southpaw was on the attack but Tabraiz Shamsi but was caught by Markram at long on while trying to clear the ropes for a well made 85.

That brought the two Iyer’s together in the middle, with the task of ensuring that the momentum would not be lost. But the duo would only add 24 runs to the cause together before Shreyas was trapped LBW by Shamsi for 11 off 14 deliveries, swinging the momentum in South Africa’s direction with less than 15 overs to go in the innings.

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Venkatesh Iyer and Shardul Thakur, both of whom can make good use of the long handle took charge after that, taking their time initially before looking to pick up the pace.

Iyer, who hit a monster six early in his knock, though could not continue with Thakur and was stumped sharply by Quinton de Kock for 22 off 33 deliveries off Andile Phehlukwayo, as SA continued to apply the brakes on the Indian innings at crucial moments. Shardul and Iyer had put on 32 and were setting up to tee off in the final overs of the innings.

With R Ashwin for company after that, Shardul looked to accelerate in the last phase and found the boundaries at one end. Ashwin meanwhile hit a six as well even as SA’s bowlers looked to tie them down on a surface that was tough for stroke making.

The duo were able to dig India out of a hole with a handy partnership, adding 48 to the cause with Ashwin remaining unbeaten on 25 and Shardul finishing on 40 not out. India posted 287/6.

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