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Rohit ton fades before Duminy’s blistering 68

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 on Friday.

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 <g data-gr-id="48">A B</g> 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 <g data-gr-id="53">Stadium as well as dew</g> 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.
Sharma was slow to start but once he had gauged the pace of the wicket he plundered runs at will and became only the second Indian to score a T20 International hundred after Suresh Raina. His sensational 66-ball knock was packed with 12 fours and five sixes as he sent the visiting bowlers on a <g data-gr-id="51">leatherhunt</g> after being invited to bat at the scenic stadium.

Sharma struck effortlessly and raised a 138 run partnership for the second wicket with skipper Virat Kohli (43 off 27 balls), who became the first Indian to complete 1000 runs in Twenty20 cricket during his cameo.

The Proteas too made a strong start, reaching 72 for none in just seven overs with de Villiers and Amla going hammer and tongs. Like Sharma, they too took full advantage of the flat pitch and were easily managing a run-rate of 10 per over.

Dhoni used four bowlers in the first seven <g data-gr-id="55">overs</g> but success was nowhere to be seen as the Proteas <g data-gr-id="47">raced</g> to 72 in no time.

The tide started to turn a bit in India’s favour after the <g data-gr-id="49">run out</g> of Amla in the eighth over. De Villiers drove off-spinner R Ashwin on the leg side, looking for two. He was quick but Amla struggled to reach his crease before Mohit Sharma’s solid throw from square leg.

It was again in Ashwin’s over that India got their second wicket. De Villiers charged down the wicket, missed the turning ball, which hit the leg stump. His 51 came off 32 balls with seven fours and a six.
Now the Proteas had two fresh batsmen at the crease -- skipper Faf du Plessis and Duminy -- and Dhoni attacked more by employing slip fielder when spinners operated. India’s hopes rose when Aravind bowled du Plessis, who dragged one on to his stumps. 

Scoreboard
 India: Sharma c Morris b Abbott 106 Dhawan run out (de Lange/de Villiers) 3 Kohli c Duminy b Abbott 43 Raina lbw b Morris 14 Dhoni not out 20 Rayudu run out (Amla/Morris) 0 Patel not out 2 Extras (lb 2, w 8, nb 1) 11 Total (5 wickets; 20 overs) 199.

South Africa: Amla run out (Kumar/Ashwin) 36 de Villiers b Ashwin 51 du Plessis b Aravind 4 Duminy not out 68 Behardien not out 32 Extras (lb 5, w 4) 9 Total (19.4 overs) 200/3. South Africa beat India by 7 wickets.
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