Rinku’s maiden fifty and other takeaways from 2nd T20I

After a complete washout in Durban, India’s tour of South Africa finally got underway on Tuesday in Gqeberha, though not the way the visiting team would have hoped for with the South Africans pulling off a comfortable five-wicket victory in a rain-curtailed match and going 1-0 up with a game to spare.

The second T20I between the Proteas and the Men in Blue at St George’s Park had its fair share of explosive knocks, with bowlers from both teams getting smashed all over the park, although it was one miserly spell from a certain left-arm spinner that ultimately made the difference.

Rain also made intermittent appearances, briefly threatening to play spoilsport for a second consecutive time. It did however, shorten South Africa’s chase with their target getting revised as per Duckworth Lewis Stern (DLS) calculations. And it certainly did cause the Indian bowlers a lot of problems later in the evening.

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Before we shift our attention to the third T20I which takes place at the Wanderers in Johannesburg in a couple of days’ time, we take a look at some of the talking points from the second T20I:

Tilak’s audition at No 3

One of the key talking points after the toss was done and the teams were revealed was the absence of senior batter Shreyas Iyer, with N Tilak Varma batting at the No 3 slot for a change. With the BCCI reportedly not including Virat Kohli in their plans for the T20 World Cup next summer and looking for a long-term replacement for his slot, and Varma’s innings might just be considered an audition.

Tilak Varma collected four fours and a six during his knock of 29 off 20 deliveries batting at the No 3 slot. AP

The Mumbai Indians batter came in after Yashasvi Jaiswal was dismissed for a three-ball duck by Marco Jansen and nearly followed the opener back to the dugout, getting dropped by David Miller at backward point. From thereon, he would then help revive the Indian innings with a knock of 29 off 20 deliveries containing four fours and a six, stitching a 49-run stand with Suryakumar Yadav. It wasn’t an extraordinary knock by any any measure, but might have done enough to warrant himself a couple of more opportunities at one-down.

Rinku’s maiden fifty

The highlight of the day from the Indian team’s perspective, however, was Rinku Singh finally bringing up a half-century in international cricket more than three months after making his India debut in the tour of Ireland.

The situation Rinku found himself in wasn’t as dire as it was when Varma and Suryakumar Yadav were still getting settled at the crease. It was his unbeaten 68 off 39 deliveries, however, that ensured the Men in Blue breached the 180-mark in the end that gave them a fighting chance of going 1-0 up with a game to spare.

Rinku appeared to have carried on from where he left off in the T20I series against Australia, collecting nine fours besides two towering sixes off Aiden Markram towards the end of the Indian innings, bringing up his fifty in 30 deliveries along the way.

Shamsi’s miserly spell

Rinku and SKY’s half-centuries helped India recover from a shoddy start and eventually cross 180. They might have gone past 200 though, had it not been for a superb spell from Tabraiz Shamsi. The left-arm wrist spinner conceded just 18 runs for a solitary wicket from his quota of four overs on a day when every other bowler had leaked runs at more than nine-an-over barring Kuldeep Yadav, who conceded 26 runs in three overs at an economy of 8.70.

South Africa left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi was adjudged the Player of the Match for his match-winning haul of 1/18 from four overs. AP

Shamsi was introduced after the powerplay in the eighth over of the innings, and spent a majority of his spell bowling to Rinku and Surya, who were struggling to connect off his bowling, forcing them to target the bowler from the other end. He conceded just one boundary throughout his spell and by dismissing Surya in the 14th over shortly after he brought up his half-century, might have saved the Proteas another 15-20 runs knowing just how dangerous he can be in the death overs.

Hendricks’ match-winning 49

South Africa were set a revised target of 152 in 15 overs following a spell of rain and for them to complete the job successfully, they needed to go slam-bang in the powerplay. They did precisely that, racking up 67 runs in the powerplay that had been reduced to five overs despite losing the wicket of Matthew Breetzke along the way.

It was Reeza Hendricks’ explosive 49 off 27 deliveries that ended up overshadowing the fifties from Rinku and Surya earlier in the evening, and his 54-run second-wicket stand with skipper Markram ensured the Proteas got over the line in a canter even if they lost a bunch of wickets along the way.

South Africa opener Reeza Hendricks smashed eight fours and a six during his 27-ball 49 in the second T20I against India. AP

Hendricks instantly put the Indian frontline quicks under pressure from the word go, collecting three boundaries off Mohammed Siraj in the first over before sending the ball onto St George’s roof with a mighty swing off Arshdeep Singh’s bowling in the second. Hendricks collected eight fours during his stay at the crease besides the humongous six and was unlucky to miss out on his half-century by a whisker.

The knock, however, is a timely one and comes a week before the IPL Auction, where his name might just attract enough interest from the franchises to trigger a bidding war.

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