Shikhar Dhawan scored his fourth T20I fifty © AFP
Shikhar Dhawan scored his fourth T20I fifty © AFP

The average first-innings score at Johannesburg is 174, but no team has emerged triumphant batting first. JP Duminy, the stand-in captain, had the beginner’s luck on his side, and he decided to bowl first. India did not mind. Dane Paterson hurled short deliveries to Rohit Sharma in the first over. Rohit pounced on them and collected 18 runs, including a four and 2 sixes. Shikhar Dhawan joined the act and flicked one over the boundary line for another six. But the Indian openers were living dangerously. Rohit became Junior Dala’s maiden international wicket.

Virat Kohli surprised everyone by promoting Suresh Raina at No. 3. The last time Raina represented India was on February 1 last year. However, his intentions showed how eager he was to bat. He came down the track right away and pulled over deep mid-wicket. He followed it with another four, over cover. All the same, the aggression invited his downfall: he induced a top edge and gave Dala his second wicket.

Dhawan, meanwhile, continued milking runs. Kohli joined the carnage, but he was lucky once: Farhaan Behardien, at long-on, dropped a simple catch. Kohli made the South Africans pay by walloping a four and six in the same over, off Tabraiz Shamsi. However, the Chinaman bowler soon made Kohli his maiden T2oI wicket: the ball hit Kohli’s pad before he could read the quicker one.

Dhawan continued milking runs and reached his fourth T20I fifty off 27 balls. He continued for the next 11 deliveries, but while trying to scoop a slower ball from Andile Phehlukwayo, Dhawan hit straight to the wicketkeeper. He went for 71 off 39.

MS Dhoni whacked two boundaries, but Chris Morris restricted him at 16. Manish Pandey gave his all but could not break the shackles the way India’s top order did: he scored 29 off 27.

Hardik Pandya, however, was lucky to have received ordinary deliveries. He remained unbeaten on 13 off 7, taking India to 203 for 5.

Brief scores:

India 203 for 5 (Shikhar Dhawan 71, Virat Kohli 26; Junior Dala 2 for 47) vs South Africa

Full scorecard