Looking to seal the T20I series, Virat Kohli's men ran into an inspired Junior Dala, a belligerent Heinrich Klaasen and a composed JP Duminy at a rain-hit SuperSport Park to concede a defeat.
Half-centuries from Manish Pandey and MS Dhoni shored up the team total after a top order collapse of sorts, but the bowling fell apart in the rain against some smart hitting by Klaasen, who, for the second time in the limited-overs, helped Proteas through to a win. Here’s the report card of the Indians for the match:
Rohit Sharma 1/10
The Mumbaikar’s woes against the in-swinger is apparently non-ending as Dala, all of one international match under hi belt, exposed the opener's vulnerabilities with a ball that swung back into him. As was the case in the Tests, and the ODIs that followed, Rohit had no clue on how to deal with balls that came into him and fell for a golden duck.
Shikhar Dhawan 4/10
Coming off the back of a belligerent 72 at Wanderers, Shikhar Dhawan was tied down with fuller lengths from Chris Morris in the first over and conceded a maiden. After two silent overs where India lost Rohit as well, Dhawan slammed away two fours and a six off Morris to transfer the pressure but couldn't really sustain the momentum as he fell to JP Duminy. With Rohit dismissed early, India needed more from Dhawan on Wednesday.
Suresh Raina 5/10
Returning to the Indian side and given his favourite No 3 position, Suresh Raina had a golden opportunity to express himself and find his feet back in international cricket. He looked dangerous in the first match but couldn't quite carry on. The trend continued at Centurion although he took it a step further with a 24-ball 30 studded with some eye-catching shots off Dane Paterson.
Virat Kohli - 1/10
The first time the Indian skipper fell for a single digit score in coloured clothes on this tour turned out to be the time India really needed him to stick around. They had lost Rohit for a golden duck and needed Kohli to score big. However, that was not to be as a Dala peach sent Kohli back for 1. The Indian skipper has switched to No 4 to accommodate Raina at 3, a move they should start pondering over if Kohli fails to find his touch in the final match of the series.
Manish Pandey - 9/10
Sidelined the whole ODI series, Manish Pandey returned to the T20I team at Johannesburg and although he couldn't quite get going then, made up for it at Centurion with a blistering knock of 79 in 48 balls that lifted India from 45/3 to 188. His outrageously confident start and sublime shot-making inspired Dhoni to join him in what was one of the best partnerships from the middle-order in a long time. Pandey's exceptional knock helps him ace the report card and seals his place at No 5, at least in T20Is.
MS Dhoni - 8/10
Vintage MS Dhoni was on display at Centurion as he took his time to get settled at the crease before unleashing a flurry of shots in the last two overs to complete his second T20I half-century. He dug into Morris and Paterson towards the end of the Indian innings, slamming two sixes and three fours and racing from 24 off 19 to 52 in 28 in these two overs.
Yuzvendra Chahal - 1/10
Handicapped with a wet ball on a rain-marred outfield, Yuzvendra Chahal sprayed around some loose ones that Klaasen cashed in on much like in the Wanderers ODI. The leg-spinner couldn't hit the right lines or lengths and bowled a few full tosses as well, helping the Proteas take him on fairly easily. Chahal has been exceptional on surfaces where he gets better grip on the ball but might need to improve his tactics when being handed a wetter ball. His four overs went for a whopping 64 runs with seven sixes coming off his bowling.
Hardik Pandya - 7/10
The Baroda all-rounder did not come out to bat, but in the five-bowler attack had an important role to don with the ball, particularly with Chahal struggling. Pandya seemed pumped up for the task and bowled good lines mixed with sharp bouncers to keep the batsmen guessing. His last over brought the important wicket of David Miller through a head high bumper that the South African southpaw pulled to deep fine-leg. He conceded just six in his final over to finish with impressive figures of 4-0-31-1 on a skiddy surface.
Jaydev Unadkat - 4/10
Unadkat was welcomed to the attack with back-to-back boundaries but exacted revenge when he sent back Jon-Jon Smuts in the same over. Klaasen dug into his shorter deliveries and smashed two sixes in his next over to spoil his figures. But Unadkat again returned later in the innings to send back Klaasen with a well-disguised off-cutter. However, with 12 needed from 10 balls, Unadkat let slip a hip-high full-toss to Duminy and the batsman tonked it over mid-wicket for six and followed it up with one more to seal India's fate.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar - 8/10
In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, the onus was on Bhuvneshwar Kumar to lead the Indian bowling attack in tough conditions. He responded with two tight overs up front, the first of which yielded just one run. He returned to the attack with Duminy all set to take South Africa home but pegged the run rate back with a seven-run over. Bhuvneshwar couldn't quite cap off the game with a good final over, though, as Kohli chose to bowl Unadkat ahead of him in the penultimate over, a bizarre decision considering that South Africa were closing in on the target.
Shardul Thakur - 6/10
Replacing the menacing Bumrah was going to be no easy task but Shardul Thakur, to his credit, bowled his heart out at the Centurion. He was unlucky to concede a few runs through edges and did well to dismiss a dangerous looking Reeza Hendricks. His first three overs went for just 21 runs as South Africa found his skidding short balls a touch difficult to put away. Thakur needs to work on variations a lot more but is a good enough back-up option to have in the squad.
Rating chart: 10-9: Excellent, 8-7: Good, 6-5: Average, 4-3: Poor, 2-1: Very poor