Durban, Jan 9 (IANS) Stylish Rohit Sharma smashed 53 runs off 38 balls as India scored a comprehensive 21-run victory over South Africa in the one-off Twenty20 International at the spectacular Mose Mabhida Stadium here Sunday.
Sharma top-scored in India’s total of 168 for six while Suresh Raina contributed 41 runs. South Africa lost two quick wickets before Morne van Wyk put the hosts in contention with a sparkling 67 runs off 39 balls.
Ashih Nehra and Yusuf Pathan, with two wickets each, came good with the ball to restrict South Africa to 147 for nine.
The home team was very much in the contest with the score being 88 for two in nine overs. But a fantastic direct hit by Raina to send back AB de Villiers and the fall of left-hander J.P Duminy to Yuvraj Singh in the next over tilted the match in India’s favour. Barring the 57-run stand between de Villies and highest-scorer Wyk, South Africa failed to build partnerships in the entire innings.
Needing 49 runs from 33 balls and seven down for 120, captain and all-rounder Johan Botha tried to up the tempo by hitting a four and a six but his effort of 25 went in vain as he ran out of partners.
Earlier, after winning the toss India lost Murali Vijay early before Virat Kohli scored a quickfire 28 with the help of five boundaries.
Sharma, who was secured by the Mumbai Indians for a staggering $2 million in the IPL auction Saturday, showed why he is still one of country’s most talented batsman as he struck a sublime knock and paved the way for Raina to unleash himself in the death overs.
The match was also a swansong for veteran fast bowler Makhaya Ntini, who represented South Africa in 101 Tests and 173 One-day Internationals. It was a fitting finish to his illustrious career as he came out to bat in the last over and a loud cheer from the huge crowd inside the football stadium came as no surprise.