India ticked all the boxes when it mattered most, crushing South Africa by 48 runs in the third T20 International you must win to stay alive in Tuesday’s run of five games at Visakhapatnam. Yuzvendra Chahal (3/20) and Harshal Patel (4/25) led the way with the ball after a blistering half-century of Ruturaj Gaikwad (57) and Ishan Kishan (54) who took India to 179 for five. The bowlers got on well after opener Gaikwad turned things around with a sparkling knock and Ishan scored his second fifty of the series.
Under the scanner for his patchy form lately, Gaikwad hit two maximums and seven fours in his 35-ball knock, and Ishan also scored his runs in 35 balls after being asked to take the first strike.
Skipper Rishabh Pant defended the total and introduced the spinners early and Axar Patel produced the first breakthrough with a fuller delivery as Temba Bavuma (8) moved over to Avesh Khan in the 4th.
Chahal was rewarded for bowling quickly as he bounced extra off the wicket to defeat Rassie van der Dussen (1), Dwaine Pretorius (20) and Heinrich Klassen (29).
Harshal mixed his deliveries well to first remove Reeza Hendricks (23) and David Miller (3), then returned to round things off with the wickets of Kagiso Rabada (9) and Tabraiz Shamsi (0) while South Africa was bundled for 131.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/21) also bowled with a lot of heart.
Previously, Gaikwad and Ishan hit two sixes each and split 12 boundaries to set the platform, but South Africa tightened the screws in the second half to keep India within 180.
It was Gaikwad who became an aggressor after a cautious start and exploded in the fifth over, slamming five straight boundaries for Anrich Nortje.
If the first was cut with confidence, he would dance the second four across the track. The third frontier was a lucky one as the ball hit his grill as Gaikwad tried to get away from an annoying bouncer.
Gaikwad then penalized Nortje for bowling half a volley and the fifth ball was sent over the third man.
The Maharashtra batter also deposited Dwaine Pretorius over deep back square for his second six as India scored 57 without a loss in six overs, their best power play in the series.
Ishan, who played second fiddle, came over in the ninth and hit Shamsi’s overball for a maximum before wiping him out for another four when 13 runs came out of the over.
Gaikwad completed his fifty in 30 balls and then welcomed Keshav Maharaj with an inside-out lift for a four, but the spinner had him caught halfway through his own bowling with India at 97 for one.
Ishan then gave special treatment to Maharaj, taking two fours and a six en route a 31-ball fifty, his second of the series.
New-man Shreyas Iyer looked good as he shot a six from Nortje and Shamsi, but the spinner sent him off and Nortje timing his jump to perfection for a nice catch.
Pretorius further fed India back by getting rid of Ishan, who was captured by Hendricks.
It could have been five, but David Miller and Rassie van der Dussen dropped two sitters to give Hardik Pandya (29) and Rishabh Pant (6) a life.
Temba Bavuma finally caught one from Pretorius to remove Pant as South Africa slowed things down.
The hosts managed just 20 runs as they lost two wickets over 13 to 17 before Hardik Pandya brought them close to 180 with some lustful blows in the closing stages.
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