JP Duminy and AB de Villiers struck fluent half centuries as South Africa beat India by seven wickets in the first Twenty20 International at the HPCA Stadium in Dharmasala on Friday
Dharamsala: Rohit Sharma's blistering century went in vain as South Africa began their long tour of India on a winning note by scripting a thrilling seven-wicket victory in the first Twenty20 International match here today.
Sharma (106) notched up his maiden T20 International century to give India a competitive total of 199 for 5 but the visitors rode on some sparkling strokeplay by J P Duminy (68 not out) and A B de Villiers (51) to overhaul the target with two balls to spare and take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
South Africa's JP Duminy (C) celebrates after victory as India's S Aravind looks on in the first T20 international between India and South Africa at The Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala on Friday. Pic/AFP
Test skipper Hashim Amla (36) and ODI skipper de Villiers laid the foundation of the SA win with their 77-run opening stand and Duminy guided the visiting side to the finish line with a sublime unbeaten 68 off just 34 balls. His 105-run unbeaten partnership for the fourth wicket with Farhaan Behardien (32 not out) sealed the game for the Proteas.
Left-handed Duminy played with a lot of responsibility under pressure and could not have timed his eighth fifty in T20Is better than this. Thanks to his gritty batting, South Africa collected 22 runs off Axar Patel in the 16th over and 14 when Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled the penultimate over.
Duminy hit Patel for three successive sixes and found a six and a four from Bhuvneshwar's first two balls as he
stroked India out of the match. He punished the Indian bowlers with seven sixes.
Debutant left-arm paceman Sreenath Aravind was given the daunting task of bowling the last over from which the Proteas needed 10. Duminy ended India's thin hopes with a six in the third ball and strolled the winning run in the fourth.
The flat track at the HPCA Stadium as well as dew made it difficult for the bowlers to contain the batsmen and it was the Proteas who had the last laugh.
The two teams will now travel to Cuttack for the second T20 match of the series on October 5.
Earlier, opener Rohit butchered South African bowling attack effortlessly en route to his maiden Twenty20 International century as India rattled up a challenging 199 for five.
Sharma was slow to start but once he gauged the pace of the wicket, he plundered runs at will and became only the second Indian to score a T20 International hundred after Suresh Raina.
His sensational 66-ball knock was packed with 12 fours and five sixes as he sent the visiting bowlers on a leatherhunt after India were invited to bat at the scenic HPCA stadium.
Rohit Sharma celebrates after scoring a century during the first T20 international between India and South Africa at The Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala on Friday. Pic/AFP
Sharma scored runs effortlessly and raised a 138-run partnership for the second wicket with skipper Virat Kohli (43 off 27 balls), who became the first Indian to complete 1000 runs in Twenty20 cricket during his cameo.
Sharma, who was timing the ball beautifully, completed his hundred with a breathtaking six off paceman Merchant de Lange. His fifty came off 40 balls and needed only 22 more balls to get to the three-figure mark.
Kyle Abbott stemmed the rot by dismissing Kohli first and then Sharma in the space of four balls. The Indian opener went for a pull but managed an edge which was taken by Morris at long leg. By that time, India were cruising with scorecard reading 162 in 16 overs.
India lost Raina (14) and Ambati Rayudu (0, run out) in the 19th over but skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (20 not out) helped India get close to 200. He finished the innings in style, hammering Abbott for a six.
The quick dismissal of Sharma and Kohli did affect India's run rate as the hosts managed just 37 runs from the last four overs. Abbott was the only South African bowler who managed a respectable figure as he gave away just 29 runs in his four overs.
The dew on the ground did make it tough for the bowlers but Sharma was in sublime form as he reduced the South African attack to a pedestrian one.
Sharma opened his account with an uppish cut in a tentative start as the lanky Abbott kept it outside off. He opened up after getting his eye in, pulling and driving Merchant de Lange effortlessly.
Shikhar Dhawan (3), who hardly got a strike, was run out when he attempted a second following a mis-field from de Lange. Sharma though grew better and better. De Lange continued to dig in short and the Indian kept pulling him. He did not spare even Chris Morris and smashed him for a six on the leg side after getting a boundary off a drive.
Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis introduced Imran Tahir as India put on board 46 after six power-play overs. The leg-spinner bowled a tight over but the pacers kept leaking runs. This time it was Indian skipper Virat Kohli's turn to inflict some damage as he hammered Morris for a six and followed it up with a boundary.
Sharma completed his half-century when he guided a short and bouncy one from Abbott to third man boundary. One ball later, he played a scoop for a leg-side boundary as India put on board 86 after half-way stage.
Tahir came in for some punishment from the two batsmen as they collected 21 runs from the 12th over. Sharma sent the first ball soaring over the ropes to bring up team's 100 and in the third ball, Kohli heaved him over deep mid-wicket to complete his 1000 T20 international runs. The skipper followed it with a flat six in long-off area.
Earlier, the visitors left out all-rounder Albie Morkel, young leg-spinner Edie Leie, batsmen Khaya Zondo and Quinton de Kock.
Pacer Srinath Aravind was given his debut by India. Spinners Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin were preferred over veterans Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra to shoulder India's slow bowling task for the match.
The following is the mid-innings scoreboard of the first Twenty20 International between India and South Africa being played at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) Stadium on Friday:
Rohit Sharma c Morris b Abbott 106
Shikhar Dhawan run out (de Lange/de Villiers) 3
Virat Kohli c Duminy b Abbott 43
Suresh Raina lbw b Morris 14
Mahendra Singh Dhoni not out 20
Ambati Rayudu run out (Amla/Morris) 0
Axar Patel not out 2
Extras (lb 2, w 8, nb 1) 11
Total (5 wickets; 20 overs) 199
Fall of wickets 1-22 (Dhawan, 3.1 overs), 2-160 (Kohli, 15.3), 3-162 (Rohit, 15.6), 4-184 (Raina, 18.3), 5-184 (Rayudu, 18.4).
Kyle Abbott 4-0-29-2
Kagiso Rabada 4-0-32-0
Merchant de Lange 4-0-47-0
Chris Morris 4-0-46-1
Imran Tahir 3-0-35-0
Jean-Paul Duminy 1-0-8-0
Hashim Amla run out 36
AB de Villiers b Ashwin 51
Faf du Plessis b Aravind 4
JP Duminy not out 68
F Behardien not out 32
Extras: (LB-5, W-4) 9
Total: (for 3 wickets in 19.4 overs) 200
Fall of wickets: 1-77, 2-93, 3-95
Bhuvneshwar Kumar 4-0-40-0
Sreenath Aravind 3.4-0-44-1
Mohit Sharma 4-0-40-0
Axar Patel 4-0-45-0
Ravichandran Ashwin 4-0-26-1
Toss: South Africa, chose to bowl
T20I debut: Sreenath Aravind (India)
Umpires: Vineet Kulkarni and C Shamshuddin (both India)
TV umpire: A.K. Chaudhary (India)
Match referee: Chris Broad (England)
Reserve umpire: C.K. Nandan