Dharamshala:  It was supposed to be Rohit Sharma’s day but Jean Paul Duminy played a spectacular knock to take his team to a thrilling seven-wicket victory over India in the opening Twenty20 match at Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association on Friday.

Rohit (106, 66b, 12x4, 5x6) played a sensational knock in bringing up the highest T20 score by an Indian and helping the hosts rustle up an imposing 199/5 in 20 overs. Chasing, South Africa after electing to field, lost early wickets but Duminy (68 n.o., 34b 1x4, 7x6) played an inspired innings to pull off a win from thin air.

In fact the hosts were reeling at 95/3 in 11th over after losing Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, who played a typical brisk innings, and captain Faf du Plessis but Duminy and Farhaan Behardien, in a brilliant counter-attack, went after the Indian bowling in an unbeaten 105-run fourth wicket partnership to silence a raucous crowd here.

The turning point for South Africa came when Duminy tonked Axar Patel for three consecutive sixes in the 16th over, which went for 22 runs and left South Africa needing just 35 off three overs. It went South Africa’s way from there on. Needing 10 runs off the last over, bowled by debutant S Arvind, South Africa reached the target when Duminy finished it with a six off the fourth ball.

The Indian defeat, notwithstanding, the crowd got to witness a match which had every ingredient to make for an ideal Twenty20 encounter. It witnessed a sublime batting performance from India, a bit of heated exchange between Kagiso Rabada and Rohit, a match that had

constant momentum shifts and even had a fan raiding the pitch in the 19th over.

However, there is a little one can take away from Rohit who cut lose to construct a power-packed, fluent innings. His timing, which has been the signature element of his batting, was on full display and he cleared the short boundaries repeatedly, even trying out a cheeky scoop for a boundary.

He effectively rotated the strike to put on 100 runs with Virat Kohli after India lost Shikhar Dhawan cheaply to a reckless run out. He brought his hundred by lofting Marchant de Lange straight, a stroke that had class written all over it. The dew had made life difficult for spinners and Imran Tahir was taken to task by both Rohit and Kohli. The leg-spinner was tonked for three sixes in 12th over.


India: Rohit Sharma c Morris b Abbott 106, S. Dhawan (run out) 3, V. Kohli c Duminy b Abbott 43, S. Raina lbw b Morris 14, M.S. Dhoni (not out) 20, A. Rayudu (run out) 0, A. Patel (not out) 2. Extras (lb-2, w-8, nb-1) 11. Total (for five wickets in 20 overs) 199.
FoW: 1-22, 2-160, 3-162, 4-184, 5-184.
Bowling: Abbott 4-0-29-2, Rabada 4-0-32-0, de Lange 4-0-47-0,
Morris 4-0-46-1, Tahir 3-0-35-0, Duminy 1-0-8-0.
South Africa: H. Amla (run out) Kumar 36, AB de Villiers b Ashwin 51, Faf du Plessis b Aravind 4, J.P. Duminy (not out) 68, F. Behardien (not out) 32. Extras (lb-5, w-4) 9. Total (for three wickets in 19.4 overs overs) 200.
FoW: 1-77, 2-93, 3-95.
Bowling: B. Kumar 4-0-40-0, S. Aravind 3.4-0-44-1, M. Sharma 4-0-40-0, A.R Patel 4-0-45-0, R. Ashwin 4-0-26-1.

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