Virat Kohli scored 72 runs off 52 balls as India coasted to a seven-wicket win over South Africa in the second Twenty20 on Wednesday.
Chasing 150, Kohli eased his way to a 22nd half-century in T20 cricket as India won with an over to spare. Shikhar Dhawan contributed 40 off 31 balls after South Africa was restricted to 149-5.
Dhawan and Rohit Sharma (12) gave the hosts a fiery start and put on 33 off 23 balls. Andile Phehlukwayo (1-20) trapped Sharma lbw and broke the flow of runs.
Kohli and Dhawan then came together to put on 61 runs for the second wicket as India was coasting at the halfway mark of their innings. But South Africa struck twice in the space of 13 balls to cause a minor wobble.
David Miller pulled off a stunning one-handed diving catch to his left at long on to leave Dhawan stunned. The left-hander was dismissed off Tabraiz Shamsi (1-19) in the 12th over.
An over later, Rishabh Pant (4) carelessly pulled Bjorn Fortuin (1-32) straight to short fine leg, resulting in yet another cheap dismissal.
Kohli, though, quickly dashed any South African hopes of an unlikely victory. He reached his half-century off 40 balls and then shifted gears with ease.
In doing so, he went atop the list of run scorers in international T20 cricket with 2,440 runs, six ahead of compatriot Sharma (2434).
Shreyas Iyer (16 not out) played the ideal foil to his skipper as India took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
“Miller’s catch was unbelievable. (But) It is great to get a winning start to the home season,” Dhawan said.
India had won the toss and put South Africa in to bat. The visitors handed T20 debuts to Fortuin, Temba Bavuma, and Anrich Nortje.
New Proteas’ skipper Quinton de Kock (52 off 37 balls) started his reign with a third T20 half-century, giving his side a quick start. But India put on the brakes quickly as South Africa only managed 39 runs from the six powerplay overs, with Deepak Chahar removing Reeza Hendricks (6) cheaply.
Bavuma added 57 runs with the captain for the second wicket and steadying the South African ship after the latter’s dismissal in the 12th over. Kohli took a diving catch to his left at mid-off to dismiss his counterpart off Navdeep Saini (1-34) and that breakthrough sucked out momentum from the Proteas’ innings.
They lost wickets at regular intervals thereafter and never looked like making a charge in the final overs despite a 15-ball cameo from Miller (18).
Chahar was India’s most successful bowler with 2-22 from his four-over spell, carrying on the good work from the recent West Indies’ tour in the dual absence of Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
“We got off to a good start but they bowled pretty well at the end,” de Kock said. “India assessed the conditions better than we did. There was a lot of pressure on some of the new guys and I think they did pretty well against this world-class opposition.”
The third and final T20 will be played in Bengaluru on Sunday. The first T20 in Dharamsala was abandoned due to incessant rain.