Captain Quinton de Kock carried the Proteas to an nine-wicket victory – and 1-1 series draw – in Sunday’s final T20I against India at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.
De Kock, who captained the XI in the absence of regular T20I skipper Faf du Plessis, again quietened suggestion that the additional responsibility would negatively affect his primary role with the bat.
He had struck a commanding half-century in Wednesday’s second T20I in Mohali, where the tourists lost by seven wickets, and impressed again four days later. His authoritative stay ensured the visitors surpassed a testing 135-run target with 19 deliveries to spare.
The hard-hitting left-hander’s 79 not out spanned a mere 52 deliveries – and featured six fours and five sixes. He would have been dismissed for 28 in the seventh over of the Proteas’ pursuit, had spinner Washington Sundar reviewed a declined lbw appeal. Television replays revealed sufficient line, length and trajectory to overrule the not-out decision.
The score marked the highest of De Kock’s T20I career, surpassing the 59 collected against Bangladesh in Bloemfontein two years ago. the experienced gain during several years playing in the Indian Premier League reaped reward in typically sub-continental conditions on Sunday.
He relished solid support from fellow opener Reeza Hendricks during a controlled 76-run alliance – and later the right-handed Temba Bavuma.
Earlier, the Proteas limited India to a final total of 134-9. Fast bowler Kagiso Rabada recovered from a shaky start, which included three successive wides, to complete telling figures of 3/39.
His haul included the key dismissals of opposition captain Virat Kohli. Rabada also ensured a burgeoning cameo from the hard-hitting Hardik Pandya ended soon enough.
Spinner Bjorn Fortuin, meanwhile, accounted for the important removals of middle-order batsmen Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyar. The former was undone by a clever change of angle and the latter a sniping tweak in pace. Fortuin, intriguingly, had earlier been deployed with the new ball alongside Rabada. He performs the role for the Lions in domestic cricket.
Opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan top-scored in India’s innings with an entertaining 36 from 25 deliveries, which included consecutive sixes off wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi – over midwicket and then long-off. Shamsi effectively had the final say, though, as Dhawan holed out on the back of another attempted big hit in the same over.
The Proteas made one change to the XI, replacing right-arm fast bowler Anrich Nortje with left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks.
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