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Sunday, February 25, 2024

SKY’s scintillating ton, Kuldeep’s five-fer power India to level series


 Suryakumar Yadav’s scintillating century and Kuldeep Yadav’s five-fer, saw India thrash South Africa by 106 runs and level the three-match T20I series 1-1 at the New Wanderers here on Thursday.

India were 0-1 down prior to this win, and they desperately needed a victory and they succeeded in doing it after South Africa sent India into bat.

After two quick wickets of Shubman Gill (8) and Tilak Varma (0) in consecutive balls to spinner Keshav Maharaj, Suryakumar and Yashasvi Jaiswal stitched a 112 runs partnership for the third wicket.

While Suryakumar hammered a record-equalling T20I century, Jaiswal cracked 41-ball 60. Both exhibited some delightful shots by trusting the bouncy Wanderers pitch.

After they took India to 87/2 at the half-way mark, the duo cut loose, especially Suryakumar who displayed his 360 degree arched shots to tame the SA bowlers who looked benign.

The India captain took a liking for Andile Phehlukwayo and scored 22 runs in the 13th over, bringing up his half-century too.

Jaiswal also showed some aggressive glimpse by punishing Lizaad Williams, but he fell to left-armer Tabraiz Shamsi after being caught by Reeza Hendricks. The loss did not stop Suryakumar who continued to whack SA bowlers.

India captain reached his century by running two runs off the 55th ball. Soon after he was undone after Mathew Breetzke caught the ball at the edge of the ropes off Williams.

But by that time, India had almost reached 200 runs after losing a slew of wickets at the end, including the hit-wicket dismissal of Jitesh Sharma.

Mohammed Siraj laid the foundation by bowling a maiden over, and then Mukesh Kumar followed it up by picking up a wicket in the next over.

Arshdeep Singh too joined the party and Siraj staged Hendricks’ run-out. An injury to skipper Suryakumar forced him off the field and stand-in captain Jadeja took control both in the field and with the ball as well.

Jadeja and Kuldeep got a bit of purchase off the pitch and ripped through the Proteas’ middle and lower order, before sealing a big win for their side, their biggest in terms of runs against South Africa.

The pitch certainly played differently in the second innings. Hendricks (8) was bogged down in the very first over as he did not get bat on ball, which had a repelling effect on Breetzke who was dismissed in the very next over for 4.

Hendricks himself got out soon after which triggered a sort of a collapse with skipper Aiden Markram (25) and Heinrich Klaasen (5) playing poor shots to get out.

David Miller fought a lone battle and one after another, batsmen came and went back to the hut.

Miller remained unbeaten on 35 but the hosts were bundled out for a meager 95 runs.

This was a resounding comeback by India which helped them level the series in the final game, and Kuldeep will never forget this as he picked up his career-best T20I figures 5/17 in 2.5 overs on his birthday. UNI BDN

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