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Dhoni, bowlers help India pull level with 22-run win

South African chase of 248 goes off the tracks after 82-run stand between Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy for the third wicket

Dhoni, bowlers help India pull level with 22-run win - Cricket News
MS Dhoni walks back, unbeaten on 92, at the end of India's innings.
They said it would be a batting track. It was expected to be a high-scoring game. And it could have been. Only, India was very nearly bundled out for a paltry score after a couple of soft dismissals. Mahendra Singh Dhoni did his best to secure something from the crucial second One-Day International against South Africa, scoring an adrenaline-pumping 86-ball 92 to take India from 124 for 6 to 247 for 9. In the end, it was 22 runs too many for South Africa.
It was a stunning effort from the Indian captain and, importantly, at the time of need, his bowlers answered his call, ensuring the knock wouldn’t go in vain. In an exhilarating ending, India pulled off victory at Holkar Stadium on Wednesday (October 14), as South Africa was bowled out for 225. The series was levelled 1-1. 
India, having won the toss, started well enough, with Ajinkya Rahane – at No. 3 once again – and Shikhar Dhawan putting on a fine 56 for the second wicket. However, a middle-order collapse meant Dhoni had to bat with the tail to propel India to a decent score. He put on 41 with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and 56 with Harbhajan Singh, shouldering the chase to help take India to a reasonable target, even as Dale Steyn returned to wicket-taking ways with 3 for 49.
There was no R Ashwin for India, sidelined with a side strain, and that meant the home side was without its most potent threat and had Harbhajan instead. Mohit Sharma was also included, coming in place of Amit Mishra. But the change that really paid off was that of Axar Patel, in for Stuart Binny.
South Africa was coasting along in the middle overs when Axar had JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis dismissed in successive overs. It prompted a middle-order collapse, and India sensed an unlikely victory when AB de Villiers was dismissed with 81 runs still left to score. The tail was nipped out in time to seal a big win that makes for an enthralling remainder of the series.
The South Africa chase had started strongly, with Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock flying off the racks to put on a quick 40 for the first wicket, within just seven overs. The stand was broken when Axar deceived Amla with turn and had him stumped. De Kock followed three overs later, holing out off Harbhajan, and it seemed India finally had some cheer coming its way.
That, however, was the last bit of success for a while, as du Plessis and Duminy – coming in ahead of de Villiers – put on 82 for the third wicket. The two kept picking up singles and doubles, and it seemed there was a boundary every other over once they settled in, the pacemen struggling to find their ideal lengths.
The stand was broken, and Axar was once again in the thick of it. He had Duminy trapped in front as the batsman looked to sweep. In his next over, Axar prompted du Plessis, who had reached 51, to lob at a one that Virat Kohli did well to hold on to at cover. When Bhuvneshwar then had David Miller caught behind in the next over, India began to hope.

But there was still the significant threat of de Villiers. He decided to just keep the scoreboard ticking over, rotating strike with Farhaan Behardien. De Villiers then began playing his shots, with Bhuvneshwar taken for a four and a six.
But there was a twist. Mohit was brought back, and de Villiers attempted to send him through the covers with a flat bat. It was in the air and too close to Kohli, and he pulled off a stunning catch, tumbling over as he held on. South Africa was 167 for 6.
It was Steyn partnering Behardien now. He swung his bat, hitting a four and a six, but his enterprise proved costly as he miscued one off Umesh. Two overs later, Behardien, the last recognised South African batsman, was caught behind down leg, Harbhajan with the dismissal. Kagiso Rabada swung his bat and smashed a couple of fours, but it was only a matter of time thereafter. Bhuvneshwar, in the 44th over, had both Imran Tahir and Morne Morkel dismissed in three balls to seal a crucial victory.
In the first half of the match, Dhawan and Rahane settled down after Rabada cleaned up Rohit Sharma in the second over of the day. They did well to rotate strike and kept the fielders busy, especially when the bowlers erred in their lines and lengths. However, just when it seemed India was in the middle of a good patch, Morkel broke through with Dhawan’s wicket, and India was 59 for 2.
Kohli was then run out after a horrendous mix-up with Rahane and it was a key wicket at an important time. Rahane was bowled around his legs in the very next over, his attempted sweep failing to connect with Tahir’s delivery. Suresh Raina followed, caught behind down leg off Morkel, and then Axar was dismissed as well, trapped in front by Steyn.

At 124 for 6, Dhoni had work to do. Bhuvneshwar provided support and they focussed on rotating strike, and keeping things moving. Dhoni hammered away when he could, charging down to Duminy and slogging him over square leg to take India past the 150-run mark. The two had put on a much-needed 41-run stand for the sixth wicket when Tahir bowled Bhuvneshwar.
Realising the need to accelerate, Dhoni punished Rabada for two poor deliveries, sending both to the fence. But what really got the scoreboard moving was the subsequent attack on Duminy – 17 runs came off one over – with both Dhoni and Harbhajan hitting huge sixes, the captain completing his half-century off 57 balls in the process.
Dhoni then took a couple of fours off Tahir, but the dismissal of Harbhajan – caught behind off Steyn for a run-a-ball 22 – took the sting out of India’s late assault. Unperturbed, Dhoni continued. In the penultimate over against Steyn, he found the fence twice with excellent shot selection, creaming one through the covers, and pulling a short delivery over square leg. The final over, from Rabada, was excellent for the most part, but Dhoni then clobbered a flat six off the last ball, giving the Indian bowlers something to defend.
And they did.

To view the full scorecard, please click here.

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