South Africa produced a fine bowling effort to restrict India to 133 for 9 in 20 overs but their India counterparts punched back in kind to make the match a closely contested affair.
As we say often, there can only be one winner, it was SA emerged the victor by 5 wickets.
India’s total was materialised solely because of an outstanding innings by Suryakumar Yadav while the South Africa chase was built around fifties by Aiden Markram and David Miller.
Those colossal individual efforts meant that match went into a last over finish but at times even T20I has a place for such low-scoring thrillers.
Earlier, Suryakumar played a wonderful innings of 68 of 40 balls to give India a total from where the bowlers could attempt something on a responsive Perth pitch.
The value of Suryakumar’s innings (68 off 40 balls, 6×4, 3×6) can be judged by the fact that the second highest score in India innings was 15 by skipper Rohit Sharma.
It was as if Suryakumar was batting on a different surface from the rest of the batters. Of course, there were those plays and misses, but the Mumbai batter showed enough spunk to put those tough moments behind him and hang in there.
That the some of the other batters were not really willing to stay at the crease only heaped more pressure on Suryakumar. But even if that was the case, the right-hander hardly showed any of it.
However, we cannot ignore the brilliance of South Africa bowlers to read the pitch to perfection and stuck to the plan to a T.
Pacer Lungi Ngdi was the wrecker as he accounted for Rohit, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya, the meat of India top order. Among the, Rohit, Kohli and Hardik fell to attempt to play pull/hook shots off short-pitched balls.
The South Africans used the pace of the surface to good effect and tested the India batters with the short ones. Ngidi admitted as much later.
“I think against a team like India, you need to dismiss them to a low total, early wickets were the key for us. The height worked in our favour, some bounced a bit, it was always expected at Perth though and I’m really happy with our lengths.
“We knew they (Indian batters) wanted to make most of our pace, so we wanted to keep it tight and tuck them down for room, perhaps one or two got away,” said Ngidi to host broadcaster during the innings break.
But there was one batter who did not got carried away, though that effort was not enough for India to hinder the South Africans.