A maiden 50 by Heinrich Klaasen and an excellent finishing job by JP Duminy paved the way for the Standard Bank Proteas to level their KFC T20 International Series 1-1 against India, after a six-wicket win at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Wednesday night.
Chasing a tough 189 for victory, the hosts reached their target with eight deliveries to spare and in the process ensured that Saturday’s final match of the tour will decide the outcome of the three-match contest.
Rookie Klaasen and captain Duminy were key to ensuring that their side avoided too many bumps along the way in wet conditions on the Highveld, with the former blasting a fearless 69 off 30 balls (3 fours, 7 sixes) and the latter completing the job with an unbeaten 64 off 40 balls (4 fours, 3 sixes).
It was a fine chase and came after the South Africans conceded 188 for four after winning the toss and bowling first.
They opted for an unchanged line-up from the first game, but apart from the first two overs that cost eight, the tourists then started to pile on the pressure.
Two quick wickets, including that of in-form skipper Virat Kohli for a rare duck to Junior Dala (2/28), did help pull India back to 45 for three at the end of the powerplay overs, but that was as good as it got for the home side.
A career-best 79 not out (48 balls, 6 fours, 3 sixes) by Manish Pandey and a dazzling 52 (28 balls, 4 fours, 3 sixes) by MS Dhoni helped India end with a flourish as the pair added an unbroken 98 for the fifth wicket.
Dala was the pick of the bowlers for the Proteas.
India began strongly by removing Jon-Jon Smuts (2) cheaply, but Reeza Hendricks provided a bit of momentum with his 26.
Klaasen, a revelation since taking the gloves from the injured Quinton de Kock, once again stepped up to the plate by planting the visiting attack all around his home ground.
He was especially harsh on one of South Africa’s chief tormenters in the limited-overs series, Yuzvendra Chahal, taking him for five sixes as he travelled for a costly 64 in four overs.
Along with Duminy, the pair put on 93 for the third wicket and by the time Klaasen fell, just over 50 were needed.
Behardien (16) helped his skipper to get most of them in a steady drizzle and draw the series level ahead of the trip to Cape Town.