A 76-run knock by Ishan Kishan helped India post 211 for 4 against South Africa in the first T20I in Delhi. However, he thought 150 runs would be enough. Kishan’s evaluation was based on the fact that the new ball not only moved off the seam but also didn’t come onto the bat well.
Even if Kishan’s prediction was somewhat off, India’s total should have been a winning score. And it appeared to be the case when South Africa was reduced to 86 for 3 after ten overs of their chase.
Rassie van der Dussen was batting on 15 off 16 at the time. David Miller had recently joined him and was on 4 out of 5 at the time. To win the game, South Africa needed another 126 runs, which no team had ever scored in the last 10 overs of a T20I. Van der Dussen and Miller, on the other hand, were unfazed.
We Knew We Could Target The Bowlers: Rassie van der Dussen
“When David came in,” van der Dussen revealed after the game, “I said to him, ‘You can play it as you see it but I’m pretty happy to take between 12 and 13 an over in the last ten.’ Because if you were in on this wicket, you could really capitalise.
So we didn’t panic at all. We knew even if the asking rate got up to 14-15, we could use that one short boundary with the right-left combination. We knew we could target the bowlers.”
They did exactly what they said they were going to do. In the 12th over, Miller, possibly in the form of his life, hit Harshal Patel for four and six on consecutive deliveries. He went one further in the next over, dismissing Axar Patel for 4, 6 and 6.
The Indian seamers had meticulously observed the first innings and devised strategies based on what they had seen, particularly how to employ the slower ball. Bhuvneshwar Kumar had bowled Temba Bavuma for one early in the innings, in a stretch in which he only gave up seven runs off two overs.
When he returned in the 15th over, he tried the same methods. The pitch had eased out by this point, and Miller hit back-to-back slower balls for four and six runs.
Had Put My Team Under Pressure By Not Being Able To Get Boundaries Early: Rassie van der Dussen
Despite van der Dussen dragging along with 29 off 30 balls, he blasted away to his half-century off just 22 balls, keeping South Africa in the game.
“I think I had put myself and the team under a bit of pressure by not being able to get boundaries early on in my innings,” van der Dussen said after the game.
“But it wasn’t through lack of intent, or lack of planning, or lack of clarity of mind. You know, sometimes it just doesn’t come off.”
Van der Dussen was having trouble timing the ball. He hit it right to the fielders once he got the timing right. Then there was the stroke of luck that allowed him to turn a possibly game-losing innings into a game-winning innings. He smashed Avesh Khan to deep midwicket, where Shreyas Iyer took a regulation catch with 63 needed from 29 balls.
“When Shreyas dropped it, I knew I had to make them pay because I took the balls to get myself in,” van der Dussen said.
And by hitting 45 off the next 15 balls, he made India pay.
Watched Harshal Patel A Lot During The IPL: Rassie van der Dussen
With 56 required off four overs, he went for the shorter leg side boundary against Harshal, who has been the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s death-overs specialist for the last two IPL seasons. Harshal, on the other hand, had a bad day.
He missed his mark twice when bowling around the wicket, and van der Dussen dutifully delivered the two full deliveries over long-on and deep-backward square leg.
“I’ve been watching him a lot in the IPL, he has been brilliant,” van der Dussen said.
“He has got such a good slower ball. So after getting those first two sixes away, I knew he has to go to his slower balls. But still you have to execute. It’s a very tough ball to hit as he gets a lot of dip on it. But again, he is only human and you know that at some stage, he is probably going to miss.”
Harshal shifted to over the wicket after the first two balls and tried to cover up the ball outside off. However, van der Dussen shuffled across the wicket and landed another four and a six to help South Africa win the game.
“I suppose the other lesson [during the chase] was if you hit a six or two in an over, don’t let the guy get away. Keep him under pressure, keep looking for those options because an over of 20 – I think that Harshal over went for 22 – goes a long way in getting it right back under control.”
Harshal’s over reduced the calculation to 34 runs needed off 18 balls. Bhuvneshwar was India’s last chance, but he could do little now that van der Dussen and Miller had done so well. Miller began the over with a six, and van der Dussen finished it with a six, four, and four. At the end of the first innings, what appeared to be an insurmountable target was accomplished with five balls to spare.