Dharamsala :Rohit Sharma’s blistering century went in vain as South Africa began their long tour of India on a winning note by scripting a thrilling seven-wicket victory in the first Twenty20 International cricket match here today.
Sharma (106) notched up his maiden T20 International century to give India a competitive total of 199 for 5 but the visitors rode on some sparkling strokeplay by J P Duminy (68 not out) and A B de Villiers (51) to overhaul the target with two balls to spare and take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Test skipper Hashim Amla (36) and ODI skipper de Villiers laid the foundation of the SA win with their 77-run opening stand and Duminy guided the visiting side to the finish line with a sublime unbeaten 68 off just 34 balls. His 105-run unbeaten partnership for the fourth wicket with Farhaan Behardien (32 not out) sealed the game for the Proteas.
Left-handed Duminy played with a lot of responsibility under pressure and could not have timed his eighth fifty in T20Is better than this. Thanks to his gritty batting, South Africa collected 22 runs off Axar Patel in the 16th over and 14 when Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled the penultimate over.
Duminy hit Patel for three successive sixes and found a six and a four from Bhuvneshwar’s first two balls as he stroked India out of the match. He punished the Indian bowlers with seven sixes.
Debutant left-arm paceman Sreenath Aravind was given the daunting task of bowling the last over from which the Proteas needed 10. Duminy ended India’s thin hopes with a six in the third ball and strolled the winning run in the fourth.
The flat track at the HPCA Stadium as well as dew made it difficult for the bowlers to contain the batsmen and it was the Proteas who had the last laugh.
The two teams will now travel to Cuttack for the second T20 match of the series on October 5.