Indore: A superb performance by the bowlers and a defiant 92 not out from skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni saw India outplay South Africa by 22 runs in their second ODI at the Holkar Cricket Stadium here on Wednesday.
Chasing India's modest total of 247/9, the South Africans lost wickets at regular intervals and their innings folded up for 225 in 43.4 overs. Pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar and left-arm spinner Axar Patel inflicted the bulk of the damage with a three-wicket hauls.
Patel claimed the crucial wickets of Hashim Amla, Faf du Plesis and J.P. Duminy to return figures of 3/39 in his 10 overs while Kumar claimed 3/41 in 8.4 overs.
Suresh Raina (left) and Ajinkya Rahane celebrate with Harbhajan Singh the fall of De Kock's wicket during the 2nd ODI match at Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore on Wednesday. Pic/PTI
Harbhajan Singh (2/51) scalped two in his comeback match, while pacers Mohit Sharma (1/21) and Umesh Yadav (1/52) picked up one each.
India, who had lost the opening match by five runs at Kanpur, have now levelled the five-match series at 1-1.
Amla and Quinton de Kock gave the Proteas' chase a flying start, tackling Bhuvneshwar and Yadav with ease. Dhoni's decison to bring on the spinners made an instant impact as Patel got rid of Amla in his very first over. The South African, who had danced down the over to smash the second ball of the over to the mid-on boundary, tried a similar act off the fourth delivery only to be beaten by the spin as Dhoni calmly whipped off the bails.
After de Kock had hit a Harbhajan delivery into the hands of Mohit Sharma at long off, set about trying to repair the damage. The duo managed to bring the visitors into the match but Patel trapped Duminy leg before to bring an end to the 82-run partnership.
That seemed to trigger a mini collapse as du Plesis, David Miller and the dangerous AB de Villiers went back in quick succession which all but ended the visitors hopes.
Earlier, Dhoni led from the front with a defiant 92 not out to help India post 247/9 in 50 overs against South Africa during their second One-Day International (ODI) at the Holkar Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.
Walking in to bat with India in a spot of bother at 82/3 in the 18th over, Dhoni batted right till the end to notch up his 60th ODI fifty. The Indian captain smashed seven boundaries and four sixes during his 86-ball innings.
The nudges, quick singles, shot-arm jabs, pulls, cuts, lofted shots over the bowler's head all were on full display as Dhoni answered back his critics with his knock that came off 86 balls, decorated with seven boundaries and four sixes.
'Captain Cool' batted with tail-enders with a calm head as India scored 82 runs off the last 10 overs to put on a board a decent total, which at one stage looked impossible. India were 165 for seven at one stage in the 40th over but Dhoni found great support from Harbhajan Singh (22) with whom he added 56 runs to lift the side.
Indian captain MS Dhoni in full flow during the 2nd ODI against South Africa at The Holkar Cricket Stadium at Indore on Wednesday. Pic/AFP
Dhoni's fighting knock and Ajinkya Rahane's 51 -- his eighth half-century in ODIs -- helped India put up a decent total even though the other batsmen came up short against the disciplined South African bowlers. Besides Dhoni, Rahane was the only other Indian batsman who managed to trouble the Proteas, hitting six boundaries during his 63-run stay in the middle.
Experienced fast bowler Dale Steyn was the most successful among the Proteas bowlers with figures of 3/49 from his 10 overs. Pacer Morne Morkel (2/42) and leg-spinner Imran Tahir (2/42) also were partly successful while rookie pacer Kasigo Rabada returned figures of 1/43.
J.P. Duminy was the only South African bowler to take a bit of punishment from the Indian batsmen, giving away 59 runs in nine wicketless overs.
Electing to bat after winning the toss, India were off to a poor start when Kasigo Rabada uprooted Rohit Sharma's leg stump with a full length delivery which beat the Mumbai lad with its pace.
Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan tried to steady the boat with a 56-run partnership from 65 balls before Dhawan was deceived by a slower delivery from Morkel. A horrible mix-up saw Virat Kohli run out before Rahane missed one from Tahir only to see the ball hit his stumps.
Axar Patel was also unable to post a substantial contribution and was beaten by the pace of a Dale Steyn delivery to be trapped leg before.
But Dhoni continued his efforts to rebuild the innings with Bhuvneshwar Kumar giving him steady support from the other end. The Indian captain was initially a bit cautious, relying more on the ones and twos to keep the scoreboard ticking rather than go for the big shots. But he gradually began to open up as the innings progressed, hitting Duminy for a four and a six in the 37th over.
Bhuvneshwar was batting steadily at the other end as the duo added 43 runs between them from 60 balls. Tahir brought the partnership to an end when he sneaked one through the gap between Bhuvneshwar's bat and and pad.
That brought Harbhajan Singh to the middle and the feisty 'Turbanator' helped his skipper jack up the scoring rate with a run-a-ball 22. Harbhajan hit a couple of boundaries and a six before he lashed out a wideish delivery from Steyn only to see Quinton de Kock do the honours behind the stumps.
But by that time the hosts were well on their way to a decent score.