After a long wait, it was a change in fortunes for captain MS Dhoni as he along with the Indian bowlers scripted an unlikely win over visitors South Africa in the second ODI of the Paytm Freedom Series at the Holkar Stadium today.
Match Report: India vs South Africa, Match 2. 14th October 2015 @ Holkar Stadium, Indore
After being set a modest total of 248 to chase, the Proteas looked in full command for the first half of the chase. Another defeat was looking eminent for the home team. However, a career best spell from Axar Patel (3/39) followed by strong backing from Bhuvaneshwar and Harbhajan turned the tide in India’s favour.
The South African openers Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock started the chase on a solid note. De Kock looked confident, finding gaps with ease and carving out boundaries effortlessly. This led Dhoni introduce spin early. Axar stumped Amla while Harbhajan got the wicket of de Kock as he tried to accelerate, hitting straight to the long-on fielder.
In-form JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis steered the African ship. Both stitched a 50-plus partnership. At 134/2 in the 25th over, it looked all but over for the home team. However, Patel struck once again to trap Duminy LBW for 36. It was quickly followed with another wicket, this time du Plessis as Kohli took a sharp catch at cover. Bhuvaneshwar joined the party in the very next over to remove Miller for a golden duck.
South Africa’s only hopes were left in AB de Villiers and Farhaan Behardien, both proven match winners. But, another stunner in the field by Kohli sent AB back with his team still needing 81 to win.
Behardein got a rough decision by umpire Vineet Kulkarni who incidentally was already under the pump for his poor judgment in the previous matches of the series as well. With just two wickets left and over 50 runs still needed, the match was as good as gone for South Africa. Bhuvaneshwar completed the formalities and removed both Tahir and Morne Morkel in one over to complete a famous 22 run victory and keep India’s invincible record at the Holkar Stadium intact.
Earlier in the day, the young sensation Rabada knocked over in-form Rohit Sharma in the second over itself to set the tone for the day. Dhawan, too feel after playing a loose shot. Kohli continued his horror run in ODIs as he ran himself out. Dhoni and Ajinkya Rahane (51) were the only bright spots.
But the real hero of the day was captain Dhoni who was under immense scrutiny and pressure before the start of this match. He smashed 7 fours and 4 sixes in his innings of 92 off 87 deliveries. It was a well-crafted knock, initially being circumspect and trying to look for gaps followed by counter-attacking but at the same time playing the balancing act with the tail.
He was well supported by Bhuvaneshwar and Harbhajan in the closing overs. As wickets tumbled, he refused singles and dealt in boundaries. His heroics saw India fight back from 124/6 to a modest but competitive 247.
Steyn was the pick of the bowlers for SA, taking 3 wickets for 49. Morkel and Tahir bagged one wicket each.
With the series level at 1-1, India next play South Africa in Rajkot this Sunday.
India 247/9 in 50 overs (Dhoni 92*, Rahane 51, Steyn 3/49) beat South Africa 225 all out in 43.4 overs (du Plessis 51, Duminy 36, Axar 3/39) by 22 runs
Player of the match: MS Dhoni (India)
Disappointment of the match: David Miller (South Africa)
Umpires: Aleem Dar, Vineet Kulkarni
Match Referee: Chris Broad