In a do-or-die game, India came up trumps against South Africa with a convincing 48-run win in the third T20I in Visakhapatnam.
Ruturaj Gaikwad finds his mojo; slams five fours in a row off Anrich Nortje
In the first T20I, India opener Ruturaj Gaikwad got off to a good start but failed to convert it into something big. Next game, he was completely outdone by Rabada, getting dismissed for just 1. In the third game though, he found his rhythm.
Over number five, Anrich Nortje, right-arm fast, comes into the attack: Gaikwad slams 4 4 4 4 4 followed by a dot ball. Next over, batting sensibly, he rotated the strike with fellow opener Ishan Kishan and then targeted Dwaine Pretorius for a big six to help India finish the Powerplay on 57 for none. Out of those, Gaikwad accounted for 44 runs with Kishan making a run-a-ball 17.
Gaikwad continued to entertain the roaring Visakhapatnam crowd as he swiftly brought up his maiden international fifty for India off just 30 balls. He finished his entertaining knock on 57 (35 balls), studded with seven fours and two sixes after South Africa ace spinner Keshav Maharaj had him caught off his own bowling.
His partner, Kishan, remained unperturbed and continued to bat with grit. He smashed Maharaj for a 4, 6, and 4 on a trot before falling prey to Pretorius in the 14th over. He reached his second fifty of the series, contributing with a solid 35-ball 54.
South Africa make mistakes but make amends
Two dropped catches in two back-to-back overs. First, Hardik Pandya got a lifeline when one of South Africa's best fielders in the side, David Miller, dropped him on 1. Miller put down an easy catch after almost grabbing the opportunity with both hands. Next over, India skipper Rishabh Pant survived on 5 with Rassie van der Dussen making an error this time.
However, South Africa breathed a sigh of relief as Pant got unlucky in the same over, with Temba Bavuma taking his catch. The visitors kept their calm and made a good comeback overall, giving away 35 runs in the last four overs thanks to disciplined bowling at the death from Rabada and Parnell.
However, Pandya's wicket gave away some extra runs as he made 31* from 21 balls, helping India complete their 20 overs on 179/5.
India learn from their mistakes
For the second game in a row, Indian bowlers won the exchange against South African batters in the Powerplay. However, unlike the previous game, the hosts managed to capitalise on it and it made all the difference with the final result.
India kept a lid on the scoring inside the first six overs, resulting in Temba Bavuma falling in an attempt to break the shackle. Harshal Patel scalped Reeza Hendricks in the final ball of the Powerplay to further solidify India's position.
Chahal, who was expensive in the first two games, struck to send Rassie van der Dussen back in the 7th over and removed the dangerous Dwaine Pretorius in the very next over. At the halfway stage, South Africa were 63/4, still 117 runs away from a win.
India kept their foot on the peddle and killed the game before South Africa could react.
India live to fight another day
Despite losing four wickets in the first nine overs, South Africa still had two dangermen that had taken the game away from India in the first two games – David Miller and Heinrich Klaasen.
India eliminated the first threat in the 11th over, with Harshal deceiving Miller with a wonderful slower one. Klaasen and Wayne Parnell put on a quick 29-run stand but Chahal put the final nail in the coffin with the wicket of Klaasen.
The rest of South Africa's batting folded rather quickly thereafter, with Harshal and Bhuvneshwar Kumar ensuring there are no further jitters. The 48-run win keeps India alive in the series with two games to go.
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