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Thursday 23 January 2020

Proteas maintain unbeaten record in pink to keep series alive

Johannesburg: India’s rampaging ODI run was brought to a halt by a resilient South Africa, which kept itself alive in the series with an exhilarating five-wicket win in the rain and lightning-struck fourth one-dayer, here.

The stunning turnaround under the Duckworth/Lewis method meant South Africa maintained their unbeaten record in pink and make it 3-1 in the six-match series.

Heinrich Klaasen smashed 43 not out off 27 balls (5 fours, 1 six) and led the Proteas’ assault on the Indian spinners after rain intervened twice to reduce the game to a 28-over contest.

Lightning and the light rain had first intervened during the Indian innings, and it came again early during the South African innings. In total 113 minutes were lost and South Africa received a 202-run target from 28 overs.

Until then, chasing 290 originally, Hashim Amla (33) and Aiden Markram (22) had given an attacking start to the hosts.

After the rain delay, the Proteas needed 159 more off 124 overs, effectively turning this into a T20 game. It didn’t help India as Bhuvneshwar Kumar (0-27) and Jasprit Bumrah (1- 21) had already bowled 4 overs each by then.

Amla was joined by JP Duminy (10), but they could only manage to add 24 runs for the second wicket. AB de Villiers (26 off 18 balls) arrived at the crease as the roof came down at the Wanderers and made his intentions clear as he smacked Yuzvendra Chahal (1-68) for two sixes over midwicket.

He looked good for much more but shockingly holed out at fine leg off Hardik Pandya (1-37) in the 17th over as the game turned on its head. At the other end, Amla was caught by Bhuvneshwar off Kuldeep Yadav, the fielder taking an acrobatic catch at the boundary rope.

Suddenly South Africa was reduced to 102/4 with the wrist spinners in action. Then, came the turning point of the game as Chahal bowled David Miller, only for the delivery to be deemed a no ball.

Miller made full use of the reprieve as he went on to smack Pandya for three successive boundaries in an over and also hit Chahal for a six. Overall, he scored 39 off 28 balls, with 4 fours and 2 sixes.

But it was Klaasen who proved to be the real difference as he punished the spinners, Chahal in particular. He unleashed a plethora of inventive shots, including the switch hit and chased umpteen wide deliveries, hitting them in an unorthodox manner to garner more boundaries.

Earlier in his 100th match, Dhawan (109) scored a 13th hundred as India reached 289 for 7 after opting to bat.

Dhawan put on 158 runs with skipper Virat Kohli (75). It was the eighth-century partnership for the second wicket between these two batsmen, the most in ODIs Indian cricket, drawing level with Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid who also have eight.

Dhawan also became the first Indian batsman to score a hundred in his 100th ODI. Overall, he became the ninth player to reach this milestone.

Kohli looked unstoppable once again and the highlight of his knock was a straight six off Lungi Ngidi as the batsman just walked down and launched him over the sightscreen.

In doing so, Kohli became the second batsman after de Villiers to score 350-plus runs in an ODI bilateral series on the South African soil.

Thunder and lightning then forced players off the field, and there was a brief rain shower as well.

That break served South Africa well as India lost two wickets in the space of 14 balls after the resumption of play.

Shreyas Iyer (18) was sent out at no.5 and together with MS Dhoni (42 not out), he calmed the situation for India.

Markram dismissed Pandya with a one-handed stunning catch at cover off Rabada as India slipped further. India scored only 89 losing 5 wickets after the rain break.

PTI

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