Rishabh Pant was probably wrapped up in all woolen, thinking of ways to combat the Australian cold when he realised that he might have to pad up and put those keeping gloves on. Pant, ignored from India’s Playing XI for their T20 World Cup Super-12 tie against South Africa in Perth on Sunday, came running on to the field, replacing Dinesh Karthik in the second innings of the contest with South Africa needing 35 to win off the final five overs.
Karthik, who couldn’t do much with a bat, getting dismissed for 6 off 15, took a fine catch to dismiss South Africa captain Temba Bavuma, to give India a fine start with the ball, did some damage to his back and had to walk off the ground. Karthik clutched the area near his tailbone and looked in pain as he limped back to the dugout. It was unclear as to what exactly went wrong with Karthik, but rest assured, he looked in trouble as Pant came dashing in with a beaming smile on his face.
It was another thing altogether that Pant could not do much as South Africa hardly gave him or India any chances there on. The substitution wasn’t enough to help India as South Africa chased down the 134-run target and won the match by five wickets. Despite Arshdeep Singh and Mohammed Shami providing India a wonderful start restricting South Africa to 24/3, a stunning 76-run partnership between Aiden Markram and David Miller put the chase back on track. Markram and Miller scored handsome half-centuries, and even though he perished with the score on 100, South Africa’s most experienced batter took his home in a last-over thriller to give the Proteas two extremely crucial points.
For India, it was once again Suryakumar Yadav, who scored a brilliant 68 off 40 balls. That India got to over 130 was purely due to Surya’s brilliance after their top order was wrecked. Lungi Ngidi picked up 4/29, getting the big wickets of KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, while Wayne Parnell grabbed 3/15. India had their moments on the field and had Kohli held on to a sitter and Rohit Sharma scored with his direct-hits, the outcome could have been different. Nonetheless, a South Africa win has made life even more difficult for Pakistan, whose semifinal hopes now hang by a thread.
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