A blazing innings by opener Gautam Gambhir was in vain as weather ultimately decided the result of one-off Twenty20 international at the Wanderers Stadium between South Africa and India with the hosts winning the game by 11 runs via the Duckworth-Lewis method on Friday.
Chasing South Africa’s 219 for four, India were fairly well placed at 71 for no loss in 7.5 overs, 11 runs behind the par score under the D/L method, when the heavens opened up.
The match was called off at 8.35 pm local time after an hour-long interruption.
Jacques Kallis' half-century helped the Proteas score 219 from their alloted 20 overs. Pic/AFP
Earlier, India’s bowlers were taken to the cleaners by Colin Ingram (78) and Jacques Kallis (61) as South Africa piled up an imposing total.
But Gambhir led India’s riposte with a quickfire 49 off 28 balls.
The left-hander along with Robin Uthappa (18 off 19) added 71 runs for the first wicket in no time, keeping India in the hunt for a stunning win at the New Wanderers.
After a rather quiet first over in which India could manage just seven runs, Gambhir slammed Albie Morkel for two boundaries and a six to put them on track.
There were a couple of quite overs after that but Gambhir’s aggressive approach at the crease kept the South African bowlers at bay.
However, as it turned out, it was not the most appropriate end to a match whose proceeds will be going to charity, for the Jacques Kallis Foundation.
Apart from charity, the match was organised to celebrate 150 years of settlement of Indians in South Africa.
Earlier, electing to bowl, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men found themselves at the receiving end of the Proteas’ onslaught as Ingram and Kallis added 119 runs for the second wicket in just 13.2 overs.
"That gave us a really good platform," said stand-in South African captain Johan Botha. "A hundred partnership in any form of cricket is great but in Twenty20 cricket it is even better."
Albie Morkel led with a three-ball 16 to provide the late flourish while Justin Ontong slammed 22 off seven balls.
So harsh was the onslaught that South Africa were past the 100 by the 12th over, with the 200 coming in the last over of the innings bowled by Suresh Raina, thanks to some prolonged power hitting.
Richard Levi got South Africa off to a brisk start, hitting seamers Praveen Kumar and Irfan Pathan for two boundaries each in the first two overs.
Pathan fought back with the wicket of Levi, getting the batsman to offer an outside edge to first slip.
The setback, though, had no effect on the South Africans who rode on Kallis and Ingram’s big hitting to put the Indians on the backfoot.
While the big shots came in a barrage, the one that stood out early on was Kallis’ towering six off Yusuf Pathan.
The off-spinner who was preferred over Ravindra Jadega, tossed one up for Kallis who took a few paces forward to loft it over long-on.
Ingram was not far behind, matching his senior partner stroke for stroke.
The left-hander swung Ashwin over deep midwicket for a huge six after the bowler dropped it a fraction short.
It was then Rohit Sharma’s turn to taste the music as Kallis rocked back to hit the part—time spinner delivery back over deep midwicket for the maximum.
South Africa have handed debuts to Farhaan Behardian and Dane Vilas while Uthappa returned to side for India.
"The match was quite evenly poised," admitted Botha. He praised Gambhir and Uthappa for the way they batted but said the South Africans had remained confident.
"Although they batted well, they were only scoring at nine runs an over and they would have needed to score at more than 12 runs an over for the rest of the match."
R. Levi c Rohit b Irfan 19 (7b, 4x4)
J. Kallis c Rohit b Ashwin 61 (42b, 5x4, 2x6)
C. Ingram c Rohit b Raina 78 (50b, 8x4, 3x6)
F. Behardien (not out) 20 (11b , 2x4)
J. Ontong b Raina 22 (7b, 2x4, 2x6)
A. Morkel (not out) 16 (3b, 1x4, 2x6)
Extras (lb-1, w-2): 3
Total (for four wkts. in 20 overs): 219.
Fall of wickets: 1-22 (Levi), 2-141 (Kallis), 3-168 (Ingram), 4-203 (Ontong).
India bowling: Praveen 2-0-22-0, Irfan 4-0-44-1, Vinay 3-0-32-0, Ashwin 4-0-33-1, Yusuf 1-0-9-0, Raina 4-0-49-2, Rohit 1-0-14-0, Kohli 1-0-15-0.
R. Uthappa (not out) 18 (19b, 1x4)
G. Gambhir (not out) 49 (28b, 7x4, 1x6)
Extras (lb-3, w-1): 4
Total (for no loss in 7.5 overs): 71.
South Africa bowling: Tsotsobe 3-0-15-0, Morkel 1-0-16-0, Theron 1-0-13-0, Parnell 1.5-0-14-0, Botha 1-0-10-0.