India lose to S Africa by 5 wkts despite Surya Kumar’s best knock

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Suryakumar Yadav played probably the best knock of his short international career but South Africa exposed India’s inadequacies against pace and bounce to win a low-scoring thriller by five wickets in Perth at the T20 World Cup match.

Virat Kohli’s costly drop of Markram at deep mid-wicket off Ravichandran Ashwin — when the batsman was on 35 and South Africa 63/3 — cost India dear, apart from some close run-out chances.

After Yadav made 68 off 40 balls in India’s below-par 133/9, the bowlers had the challenge of defending the modest total.

What hurt India most was an inept show from top-order batsmen, and Yadav was once again the saving grace and shining light. Yadav’s little gem of an innings saved India from complete disaster after the team was down and out at 49/5 in 8.3 overs. Perhaps the world’s most decorated T20I batter in recent times, Yadav seemed vastly superior to his teammates as none of them could pass even 15 runs.

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The lion-hearted Arshdeep Singh (2/25) did bowl another dream first spell but Aiden Markram (52 off 41 balls) and David Miller (59 not out off 46) ensured South Africa achieved the target in 19.4 overs.

South Africa, with five points from three games, heads the Group 2 points table ahead of India (four points from three matches). India, who have to play Bangladesh (November 2 in Adelaide) and Zimbabwe (November 6 in Melbourne) next, are within striking distance of a semifinals berth.

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India’s defeat today made Pakistan’s task of qualifying for the semifinals tougher. Pakistan has two points from three matches and they can qualify for the knockout stage only if they win their last two games and other results also go their way.

Rohit Sharma’s decision to bat first on a spicy deck was brave and while all eyes were on Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, it was reserve pacer Ngidi who hurt India the most.

The slide started when an out-of-form KL Rahul (9 off 14 balls) played a maiden over off Wayne Parnell. The windy, cold conditions helped Parnell to pitch it full and move the ball to beat Rahul’s bat multiple times.