Dinesh Karthik’s blazing half-century and four wickets by Avesh Khan helped India clinch a series-levelling 82-run victory over South Africa in the fourth T20I on Friday. Karthik’s blistering 55 off 27 deliveries powered the hosts to a competitive 169-6, which was comfortably defended by their bowlers. Chasing 170 for the win at the SCA Stadium in Rajkot, the Proteas slipped to their lowest ever T20I total, two lower than their 89 all-out against Australia at Johannesburg in 2020. (Also Read | ‘For a captain of India, to keep getting out in same manner…’: Gavaskar rips into Rishabh Pant after another failure)
India defended their total with ease for the second time in a row, setting up the series decider on Sunday in Bangalore. While it was a near-perfect game for the home side, stand-in captain Rishabh Pant recorded yet another failure with the bat. The 24-year-old stumper tried to hoik a Keshav Maharaj delivery that would have been a wide.
Pant perished for 17 off 23 deliveries and his dismissal again sparked debate over his rash shot selection. So far in the series, the left-handed batter has registered scores of 29, 5, 6 and 17. Notably, Pant has been dismissed in a similar fashion thrice in the T20 assignment.
Watch: Dinesh Karthik abruptly pauses in mid-innings interview during India vs South Africa 4th T20I. Here’s why
While Pant was elated to see Karthik’s blitz, he admitted that he needs to improve upon his own batting. “As an individual, I can look to improve in certain areas. Not too concerned though. Looking to take the positives and looking to improve. Let’s see what happens in Bangalore. Looking forward to giving our 100 per cent,” said Pant in the post-match presentation.
Pant, who lost his fourth consecutive coin toss, spoke about his team’s execution and underlined Hardik Pandya and Karthik’s game-changing stand after India were tottering at 56 for 3 in 10 overs.
“We talked about execution and here are the results! We can talk about toss but whichever team plays better generally wins. Really happy with Hardik putting up a stand while DK went for the kill, that’s when the bowlers felt the pressure,” said Pant.
Avesh may have returned his T20 best figures of 4/18 but it was Karthik who brought the Rajkot crowd to its feet. The experienced keeper-batter explained how a sense of security and clarity in thought process helps him keep going.
“Just feels good,’ he said about the innings. “I am feeling very secure in this set-up. In the last game, things didn’t go according to plan, but I went and expressed myself today,” Karthik, who picked up player-of-the-match, said at the presentation ceremony.