India vs South Africa, 4th T20I: Resurgent India look to level and keep the series alive against South Africa | Cricket News



Pressure on Pant to deliver a must-have game for India
RAJKOT: With their mood lifted after a convincing 48-point victory South Africa in the third T20I in Visakhapatnam, a resurgent India will look to keep the momentum going at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium here on Friday. A win at the Khanderi site for them will level the scores 2-2 in the five-game series and set up a tantalizing decider in Bengaluru on Sunday.
The traditional mattress topper of a pitch promises an exciting battle here. It has been raining sporadically for the past few days, with the sun playing hide and seek, but the good news is that according to Friday’s weather forecast, the rain will stay away.


Rishabh Pants and Rahul Dravid during a training session at the SCA Stadium in Rajkot. (Photo PTI)
Plunged into this series against a world-class side shortly after coming through a grueling IPL, India struggled to keep pace with South Africa, losing 0-2 in three days. Apart from Ichan Kishan and Hardik Pandyaimpressive form, nothing seemed to be going well for Rahul Dravid’s boys. However, with their backs to the wall, the hosts found their best game just in time.
A show of aggression Ruturaj Gaikwad (57 from 35 balls), Ishan Kishan (54 from 35 balls), Hardik Pandya (31 from 21 balls), India scored 179 for five in the last game, before the penetrating spells of dressmaker Harshal Patel (4- 25) and leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (3-20) helped them fold the Proteas for just 131.


The encouraging feature of India’s victory in the coastal city is the return to form of Gaikwad and Chahal. Gaikwad, who had scored just 63 points in the previous five Twenty20s, was under pressure. However, his first international half-century showed why he is such a pistol player in the shortest format.
Leg-spinner Chahal had looked completely out of sorts since the IPL playoff stage and had conceded 75 runs in six overs in the first two games of this series as the Proteas attacked him at will. However, in Visakhapatnam he came back in style, bringing down Dwayne Pretorious, Rassie van der Dussen and Heinrich Klaasen.


There are, however, a few areas of concern for Team India. Having scored just 40 points in three games at 13.33, star goaltender Rishabh Pant, captain of this series, must be eager to get going. The South Africans cleverly got his number all three times by throwing him a bit wide of the stump, forcing him to reach out and punch in the air.
In an encouraging sign for South Africa, their top batsman, goalkeeper and fly-half Quinton de Kock, who was out of action after the opener in Delhi with a wrist injury, was seen training the day before the game.
Markram returns home
Meanwhile, South African batsman Aiden Markram has been ruled out of the two remaining T20Is and returned home after testing positive for Covid early in the series. Markram has undergone seven days of quarantine but will not be able to play the last two matches, Cricket South Africa have said.


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