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WC T20: India loss to a formidable-looking South African side

In the run chase, South Africa were rocked by a twin strike by left arm pacer Arshdeep Singh but then recovered brilliantly to post 137 for five in 19.4 overs and clinch the game.

Statesman News Service | Perth |

India suffered their first defeat in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup when they were overpowered by a strong South African team by five wickets in a low-scoring match at the Perth Stadium here tonight.

Rohit Sharma-led India were caught like deer in front of car headlights by the South Africa pace pack led by Lungi Ngidi and were stopped at 133 for 9 after skipper Rohit Sharma opted to bat first.

Barring Suryakumar Yadav, who struck a brilliant 68 off 40 balls, none of the Indian batters could cope up with the spicy South African pace attack in which Ngidi was outstanding on a helpful track and in cold conditions with splendid figures of 4 for 29.

In the run chase, South Africa were rocked by a twin strike by left arm pacer Arshdeep Singh but then recovered brilliantly to post 137 for five in 19.4 overs and clinch the game.

From a shaky 24 for 3, South Africa were piloted home by number four Aiden Markram (52) and number five David Miller who remained unconquered on a breezy 59 off 46 balls in which he lashed 3 sixes and four fours.

He struck off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin for two successive straight field sixes in the 18th over that finished off whatever little hopes India had of defending the small score.

The fourth-wicket duo of Markram and the left handed Miller added 76 runs to put their side on the path to victory that they achieved after the fall of two more wickets.

The convincing victory took South Africa to the top of the Super 12 Group 2 points table with five points to their credit and left India at 4 points and in second spot after playing three matches in the five-team round robin.

Earlier, 26-year-old tall paceman Ngidi who tore the heart out of the Indian innings with an incisive first spell of 3 overs in which he packed off both openers K L Rahul (9) and Rohit Sharma (15), along with in-form Virat Kohli (12) and Hardik Pandya (2) at the cost of just 17 runs.

Ngidi, who was expensive and returned figures of 0-49 and 2-51 in his previous two T20 Internationals against hosts India in the first week of this month, exploited the pace and bounce on the pitch to the hilt.

He lured top Indian duo of Rohit and Kohli with short balls which the two Indian batters couldn’t resist from going after.

In the same over that he had Rohit caught and bowled, he ousted out-of-form Rahul with a ball that moved away and took the edge of the bat into lone slip fielder Markram’s hands.

Kohli departed in Ngidi’s second over and then Ngidi got Pandya to pull with a ball down the leg for the batsman to be caught at long leg. In just 15 balls the tall youngster had sent the Indian innings into a tailspin, the score reading a sorry 42 for 4.

Anrich Nortje removed Deepak Hooda, who was surprisingly included in the eleven at the cost of Axar Patel, to push India further into the mire at 49 for 5.

Surya, who came in at 26 for 2 after 5 overs, didn’t allow the mayhem at the other end from curbing his instincts as he timed the ball sweetly after a lucky edged four early on.

He struck three sixes, one each off Nortje, Ngidi and left arm spinner Keshav Maharaj, and six fours. His flat batted straight swat for four off Kagiso Rabada, was among the picks of his shots apart from a straight drive that showed his class.

Surya looked good while he was at the crease and put on a crucial 52-run partnership with Dinesh Karthik before the latter departed in the first ball of the 16th over.

Running out of partners, Surya gave charge to Wayne Parnell in the left arm bowler’s second spell and was caught at mid-off with one over left.

Ngidi, whose career best had come in July this year against England when he returned figures of 5 for 39 at Bristol, finished with 4 for 29 while Parnell also impressed in his haul of 3 for 15.

South Africa lost Quinton de Kock and Rile Rossouw in the second over bowled by Arshdeep and then out of sorts skipper Temba Bhavuma in the sixth over before they were rallied by Markram and Miller with a splendid partnership.

Miller remained unconquered till the end and also hit the winning stroke.

India were also a bit sloppy in the field and their best fielder Kohli even dropped a catch at deep mid wicket off Markram. One run out chance to send back Miller was also missed by Rohit.

Earlier at the same stadium, Pakistan defeated Netherlands by six wickets with 37 runs to spare in Group2.

Pakistan produced a powerful bowling display to restrict their rivals to 91 for 9 and then made 95 for four in 13.5 overs to record their first victory in three matches.

Pakistan had lost to India by four wickets in their lung opener at the Melbourne Cricket Ground last Sunday and then lost to Zimbabwe by one run on Thursday.

In today’s game, pacer Mohammed Wasim and leg spinner Shadab Khan picked up two and three wickets respectively before Muhammad Rizwan ensured an easy victory for his team by making 49 in 39 balls. EOM