A disappointing chase by South Africa resulted in their first loss on this tour as India won the second ODI by 22 runs in Indore on Wednesday.
The series is now square at 1-1 with three games to play after the Proteas fell short in chasing 248 for victory. South Africa will be kicking themselves for throwing this game away, something India were guilty of after the first ODI.
The Proteas batting order were guilty of a few soft dismissals as well as a very unlucky one towards the end when a big appeal by Harbhajan Singh and MS Dhoni convinced the umpire that Farhaan Behardien had nicked one behind to the wicketkeeper instead of the ball being called a wide.
The Snickometer showed there was no contact between bat and ball but Behardien (18), South Africa’s last recognised batsman at the crease, had to walk with his team still needing 48 runs off 63 deliveries.
Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir tried their best with a 21-run partnership at the end of the innings but after Tahir got caught behind it was well and truly over.
South Africa looked in control of the chase and were cruising on 134-2 with Faf du Plessis (51) and JP Duminy (36) at the crease, sharing a 82-run partnership.
Duminy’s lbw dismissal, missing a sweep shot, started a mini collapse as the visitors lost three wickets in three overs going from 134-2 to 142-5. David Miller’s poor run of form continued with a duck off the first ball he faced.
Quinton de Kock threw his wicket away at the top of the order with an unnecessary shot to long-off. AB de Villiers played a poor shot to get caught by Virat Kohli for 19 and his wicket made a big difference to the rest of the chase.
South Africa finished on 225 chasing a score that India felt were about 30 runs short of a good total.
A fighting unbeaten knock of 92 by Dhoni helped India reach an underwhelming 247-9 after they won the toss and batted first.
In the end Dhoni fell short of a well deserved hundred, but his innings off 86 balls proved vital in helping India reach a score they could bowl at, and they did just that.
As was the case in the first ODI, it was again Dhoni against Kagiso Rabada in the final over, but with Dhoni not keen to take singles he had to wait until the last delivery of the innings to hit a six, which was the only runs off the over.
This time South Africa’s bowlers managed to take wickets up front and had India in trouble on 104-5. It seemed unlikely that India would be able to bat out their overs, but the fact that they did is down to Dhoni’s measured approach and experience.
Rabada got dangerman Rohit Sharma early for three with a superb delivery that uprooted his off-stump. Kohli, under pressure to score some runs, was run-out after a misfield and bad communication with Ajinkya Rahane, who played well for his 51.
Dhoni took control of the innings and paced it well, but he ran out of reliable partners towards the end when Dale Steyn, who claimed 3-49, took two wickets in the 47th over which forced Dhoni to retain most of the strike for the last few overs.
Morne Morkel and Imran Tahir also chipped in with two wickets apiece and South Africa would have felt confident of chasing down an average target at best.