De Kock leads SA to nine-wicket win, Kohli’s move to bat first backfires

South Africa, India, South Africa tour of India, third T20 international, nine-wicket win, series-leveling, Virat Kohli, Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada, Shikhar Dhawan, M Chinnaswamy Stadium
South Africa's Quinton de Kock plays a shot during the 3rd and final T20 match against India at Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. (PTI)

The third T20 game between India and South Africa saw the skippers taking charge in their hands with Virat Kohli making a bold move to bat first, however, it boomeranged on his team as the Proteas chased for a series-leveling nine-wicket win in M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru on Sunday (September 22).

South Africa’s Quinton de Kock hit an astounding 79 which spearheaded the 139-restricted Indian side.

To everyone’s surprise, Kohli opted to bat first after the toss worked in his favour as the ground is one of the smallest and is always known to favour the chasing side in the shortest format of the game.

Initially, the decision looked like it will break the jinx of the stadium as the hosts raced to 54 for one in six overs. However, the departure of Shikhar Dhawan gave the Proteas an opening which within the blink of the eye South Africa grabbed and tied India down to 71 runs for the loss of eight wickets.

During the visitors’ chase, de Kock took complete control and struck six fours and five sixes in his unbeaten 79 runs in 52 balls. He added He added 76 runs for the first wicket with Reeza Hendricks in 10 overs and then put on another 64 with Temba Bavuma.

Also read | India vs South Africa: Hosts look to maintain clean slate before Tests

After moving to 19 in four overs, De Kock cut loose by hitting Navdeep Saini for two sixes, and there was no looking back.

Earlier, India were restricted to 134 for nine by the South African attack. Top-scorer Dhawan blazed away to a 25-ball 36 and got India off to a brisk start that yielded them 54 runs in the first six overs.

Kagiso Rabada was expensive but picked up three wickets, while there were two apiece for Bjorn Fortuin (2/19 in 3 overs) and Beuran Hendricks (2/14). Playing in his first game of the series, Beuran Hendricks was the teams best bowler without a doubt as he choked run-flow in the middle overs along with left-arm spinner Fortuin.

South Africa, India, South Africa tour of India, third T20 international, nine-wicket win, series-leveling, Virat Kohli, Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada, Shikhar Dhawan, M Chinnaswamy Stadium
Indian batsman Shikhar Dhawan plays a shot during the 3rd and final T20 match against South Africa at Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. Photo: PTI

Rohit Sharma got out early but he did put pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada under pressure straight away, striking him for two boundaries in his first over one over cover and the other through extra cover. That brought crowd favourite Kohli in the middle but Dhawan, who began the innings with a boundary, was in charge and welcomed leg-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi with back-to-back sixes.

The first six was smashed over long-on and the for the second maximum, Dhawan sashayed down the ground, played against the turn, before striking the ball towards long-off. Going for one too many, Dhawan mistimed Shamsi, who had his revenge after Temba Bavuma completed a neat catch.

Also read | Unofficial SA test: Shubman Gill shines again, India A reach 233/3 at stumps

Kohli, too, followed suit as Andile Phehlukwayo pulled off a fine running catch in the deep, much to Rabada, the bowler on the occasion, and his teams relief. Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant, who improvised to scoop Dwaine Pretorius over the fine leg boundary, threw away their wickets within two balls, leaving India in trouble at 92 for five in the 13th over.

After Pant fell prey to Fortuin’s smart piece of bowling, Iyer stepped out out only to be stumped off a wide ball. It was yet another failure for Pant and once again to a left-arm spinner. After Santner accounted him in the World Cup, Fortuin has now got him twice in two games.

At the toss, Kohli’s contention was that he doesn’t want the team to slip into a comfort zone. Batting first or second, he wants his team to be a master of all situations with little more than a year left for the T20 World Cup.

However, it did not prove to be a successful move as South Africa staged a strong comeback to level the three-match series 1-1 after the first game was washed out.

(With inputs from agencies)