INDORE, India, Oct 14, (AP): Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni produced a courageous knock under pressure and Axar Patel came up with some timely strikes as India completed a gritty 22-run victory over South Africa in the second one-day international on Wednesday.
Dhoni gave a superb exhibition of batting in the company of lower-order batsmen, with his unbeaten 92 helping India to level the five-game series 1-1. Left-arm spinner Patel extracted enough turn from the pitch to grab 3-39 as India bowled out South Africa for 225 in 43.4 overs in reply to the hosts’ 247-9.
India’s score did not look daunting at a venue that had averaged close to 300 per innings in the previous three ODIs, but the home side took charge as last-match centurion AB de Villiers came in to bat at No. 5.
Patel justified Dhoni’s decision to play him ahead of leg-spinner Amit Mishra as he had Hashim Amla (17) stumped to make the first breakthrough and also dismissed Faf du Plessis (51) and Jean-Paul Duminy (36).
India did not miss injured lead spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, with the slow-bowlers’ efforts being supplemented by the spot-on seam bowlers led by Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, who finished with 3-41.
South Africa looked in control during an 82-run stand for the fourth wicket between du Plessis and Duminy, but slipped from 134-2 to 167-6 with De Villiers (19) falling to a fine catch by Virat Kohli off seamer Mohit Sharma.
India had seized the initiative and Farhaan Behardien’s departure in the 40th over at 200-8 virtually sealed the win.
“The target was manageable and (it was) a poor batting performance from us,” De Villiers said. “We had the experience but could not execute well. It was a very good performance from our bowlers and we would have loved to chase something like 200.”
Earlier, Dhoni smashed four sixes and seven fours as India fought back after being reduced to 104-5 in the 24th over.
The World Cup-winning captain batted himself in and generally played the deliveries on merit before opening up. He got to his 60th half-century with a pulled six off spinner Duminy and continued in the same vein.
“It was not an easy game as a lot of people wait with open swords and want you to make mistakes,” Dhoni said in reference to his below-par spell with the bat. “As a complete batting unit we didn’t perform well but we bounced back well.”
Steyn finished with 3-49 but Morne Morkel and Imran Tahir bagged two important wickets each to peg India back.
Ajinkya Rahane was the only one to bat well from the upper order, scoring 51 off 63 balls for a second consecutive half-century.
Rahane, who scored 60 in the preceding game at Kanpur which South Africa won by five runs, was bowled round the legs by leg-spinner Tahir in trying to sweep the ball.
India did not get any worthwhile contribution from the openers with the in-form Rohit Sharma dismissed for 3 and Shikhar Dhawan for 23.
Rohit was bowled off the pads by a pitched-up delivery from new-ball bowler Kagiso Rabada, while Dhawan failed to read a slower one from Morkel and gave an easy catch to Duminy at short cover.
Kohli was run out and Rahane fell a little later. Suresh Raina then followed without scoring as he edged one down the leg side from Morkel, leaving Dhoni to stretch the innings.