Jacques Kallis and Colin Ingram blazed half-centuries to lay the foundation for South Africa’s total of 219 for four, and Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa were making a very good fist of the chase as they took India to 71 without loss in just 7.5 overs before rain stopped play.
After ending their innings on a tremendous high, Justin Ontong and Albie Morkel lashing 26 runs off the final over, South Africa were unable to make a breakthrough with the ball, but Lonwabo Tsotsobe’s three overs for just 15 runs were ultimately the difference as India were behind according to the Duckworth/Lewis calculation, but in control in many people’s eyes.
Gambhir hit seven fours and a six in his 49 not out off just 28 balls. It was a stunning mix of stylish strokeplay and awesome power from the left-hander and it definitely had South Africa on the back foot.
Uthappa had made it to 18 not out off 19 balls when the rain arrived to end the match.
Tsotsobe was the only bowler to keep the batsmen quiet, not conceding a boundary. The other four bowlers used by South Africa conceded 53 runs in 4.5 overs.
South Africa had earlier charged to the fourth-highest T20 international total ever as they plundered 219 for four.
Kallis – who was being “honoured” by the game – and Ingram established South Africa’s dominance with a record second-wicket stand of 119 off 81 balls, before Ontong and Morkel provided an emphatic conclusion by taking 26 runs off the final over bowled by Suresh Raina.
With overcast, rainy skies over the Wanderers only clearing a couple of hours before the toss, Mahendra Singh Dhoni called correctly and then sent South Africa in. Richard Levi hit four of his first six balls to the boundary, but his cameo was over almost before it had begun as left-armer Irfan Pathan switched to over the wicket and immediately had him caught at slip by Rohit Sharma for 19.
The colder weather in Johannesburg may have helped the amazing Kallis, but having flown halfway around the world from chilly New Zealand just 48 hours previously, the great all-rounder produced another remarkable innings to celebrate his own party.
Showing his usual ice-cool judgment, Kallis was content to push singles, until he found the length he wanted. He would then positively murder the ball, lashing five fours and two sixes in his 61 off 42 balls.
Ingram, battling to establish himself at international level, had a dream evening as he blasted a career-best 78 off 50 balls, with eight fours and three sixes.
Their century stand – coming off 72 balls – was the sixth by a pair of South African batsmen and the first against India. They batted through until the end of the 15th over, when Kallis was eventually caught by Rohit on the midwicket boundary off Ravichandran Ashwin.
That just seemed to bring out the best in Ingram as the last five overs produced a great finish by the South Africans – 78 runs being scored in the last five overs!
Ingram cut loose by scoring his last 28 runs off just 12 balls, finishing with eight fours and three sixes, most of his strokes being in keeping with the MCC Coaching Manual.
Off-spinner Raina had been the one Indian bowler to police the South Africans up till then and he removed Ingram at the start of the 18th over, Rohit taking his third catch of the innings – the first Indian to do so – diving forward at deep midwicket.
Only five runs had come from the over, before Ontong ended it with a slog-swept six over midwicket.
Irfan was then tidy in the 19th, conceding just a single Ontong boundary, before the experienced right-hander went into overdrive by hitting the first two balls of Raina’s final over for four and six. Ontong then missed a cunning quicker, flatter delivery from Raina to be bowled for a quickfire 22 off seven balls, but Morkel was just the man to close the innings, going six-four-six to finish with 16 not out off three balls.
Debutant Farhaan Behardien kept the momentum going with his 20 not out off 11 balls and these are exciting days for South African batting when one considers Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis weren’t even playing!
The end result was South Africa’s highest total against India, beating the 172-5 in the 2010 T20 World Cup in the West Indies, and the second-highest score they have ever made, behind the 241-6 against England at SuperSport Park in 2009/10.
The off-spinner Ashwin was the most economical of the visiting bowlers, with one for 33 in his four overs.