Heinrich Klaasen    AFP
Heinrich Klaasen AFP

MS Dhoni faced 9 deliveries in the last 2 overs. You would not want that, given the form he has been in lately. Off-colour, uncharacteristic, lacklustre: the name calling is easy when one stares down the barrel. But is Dhoni done with cricket? Some say India need him in ODIs, but the fastest format is not his cup of coffee anymore. Dhoni, however, detaches himself from whatever we think of him. He does absorb it, but he gets rid of it on the match day.

So, how much would this fading Dhoni of yours score off 9 deliveries? Throw a number, and it would not be the one Dhoni once used to accumulate. 15 off 9? No. 20 off 9? Come on. Be reasonable. 28 off 9. No kidding. In your face. But, is this only about Dhoni? No. There is a plot twist.

There were two finishers when India were to play the last 55 deliveries. One of course was Dhoni. The other was Manish Pandey. He started the demolition and Dhoni made a version 2.0 of it. They added 98 runs for the fifth wicket, taking India to 188 for 4.

Pandey displayed an amalgamation of power and timing. Dhoni meanwhile was innovative. There weren t high, into-the-orbit sixes but calculative, intelligent hitting. To cut it short, Dhoni had foreseen what South Africa were up to.

The drizzle was on and off, the reason JP Duminy elected to bowl first. And the SuperSport Park is Bermuda triangle for the bowlers in the second innings. Virat Kohli too wanted the same. But nothing panned out the way Duminy thought it would in the Powerplay. India gave away only 4 runs in the first two overs. Reeza Hendricks continued his good form, but there was not much he could do to keep the Indian pacers at bay. He went for a 26 and his partner JJ Smuts for a mere 2. Duminy started with a four off his first delivery, but the wrecker-in-chief was Heinrich Klaasen. His best stroke came off Yuzvendra Chahal: making room, he walloped it over covers. If not that, he also played a reverse-sweep for a six. He was playing at his home ground after all. He knew every nook and cranny of it.

India persisted with Chahal and Klaasen persisted with hammering him. The first three balls of the 13th over read 6, 6, 4. Klaasen took a single of the fourth ball. Duminy wasted the fifth delivery but finished the over with a six. The 21-run over worsened Chahal s figures, which read 3-0-51-0.

Two overs before, Hardik Pandya and Virat Kohli had blasted at Jaydev Unadkat for being sloppy in the field. Pandya banged the ball in frustration, while Kohli gave a mouthful.

Kohli summoned Unadkat for damage control. The southpaw started off with an off-cutter and induced an edge of Klaasen to Dhoni. That relieved him from the fielding glitch he was blamed for a few minutes back. He could finally make an eye contact with his captain.

The wicket did not change the equation. South Africa needed 58 off 42.

And just when South Africa needed David Miller to partner Duminy to victory, the former top-edged off Pandya for 5. India took 2 big wickets for 10 runs. However, the rampage continued and the culprit yet again was Chahal. He gave 13 runs off his last over. South Africa needed 33 off 24.

(Note: Chahal’s figures of 4-0-64-0 are the worst figures by an Indian bowler in T20Is)

Bhuvi put a break on South Africa s momentum, giving away 7 runs. Shardul Thakur followed it with a 10-run over, 4 runs of which came off a thick inside edge. And that is how Duminy brought up his fifty. South Africa needed 16 off 12.

All Unadkat needed to do was take the match to the last over. Bhuvi had one over left. But Duminy did not want to face him, attaining 16 runs in the next four balls. South Africa emerged victorious by 6 wickets and kept the three-T20I series alive.

Brief scores:

India 188 for 4 in 20 overs (Suresh Raina 30, Manish Pandey 79*, MS Dhoni 52*; Junior Dala 2 for 28) beat South Africa 189 for 4 in 18.4 overs (JP Duminy 64*, Heinrich Klaasen 69; Jaydev Unadkat 2 for 42) by 6 wickets.

Player of the Match: Heinrich Klaasen

Full scorecard