New Delhi: David Miller carried his sensational IPL form to international cricket as South Africa made a mockery of the Indian bowling attack to gun down their highest ever run-chase and race to a seven-wicket win in the opening T20 here on Thursday. Rassie Van der Dussen (71 not out off 45 ) and Miller (64 not out off 31) shared an unbeaten 131-run stand to chase down a stiff 212-run target with ridiculous ease and five balls to spare.
India had posted an imposing to 211 for four with the help of Ishan Kishan (76 off 48 balls), new skipper Rishabh Pant (29 off 16), and Hardik Pandya (31 off 12).
However, it was not meant to be as the Indians were outdone by the brilliance of Miller and van der Dussen, who toyed with the opposition attack.
South Africa skipper Temba Bavuma (10) and Quinton de Kock (22) were off to a flyer as they raced to 22/0 in the first two overs. However, the ever-reliable Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled a brilliant leg-cutter to dismiss Bavuma. Dwayne Pretorius (29 off 13) and de Kock then took leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and Hardik to the cleaners. While Chahal gave away 16 runs, Hardik, whose return to bowling was highly anticipated ahead of the series, leaked 18 runs and was slammed for three sixes by Pretorius, including one that was 91m long.
Harshal Patel finally broke the partnership as he bamboozled Pretorius with a slow full toss.
The Indian bowlers kept striking at regular intervals and limit the boundaries, slowing the proceedings. But ‘Killer Miller’ had different ideas. Continuing his stellar run from the IPL, the Southpaw smashed a total of three sixes and a couple of fours in the 12th and 13th over to get South Africa back in the game, while van der Dussen played the perfect second fiddle.
With 80 needed off the last six. Miller brought up his fifth T20 half-century.
India had the opportunity to break the dangerous partnership between Miller and van der Dussen but Shreyas was guilty of dropping the latter at deep midwicket on 29. The drop cost India dearly as van der Dussen pummelled Harshal to submission. The South African hit three sixes and a four.
After that, it was a six-hitting fest as both the batters hit five maximums each. Earlier, India were off to a bright start after being asked to bat. The hosts plundered 13 runs off the first over with Kishan hitting back-to-back fours as Bavuma opted to open with spinner Keshav Maharaj. Rectifying his mistake, Bavuma bought pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada into the attack, who restricted the scoring giving away two runs in the following over.
Kishan seemed to be struggling with Anrich Nortje’s pace but alongside Rituraj Gaikwad (23) kept on stealing boundaries and sixes with ease at the Arun Jaitley Stadium. Gaikwad was dropped on 17 by Dwayne Pretorius at the beginning of the seventh over. However, the right-hander couldn’t capitalize on the reprieve as he was caught at midwicket by Bavuma off Wayne Parnell, who made a comeback to the South African side for the first time since 2017.
Kishan and new-man Shreyas Iyer (36) continued to score runs at will as India raced to 100 runs in 9.4 overs.
The visitors also seemed a tad sloppy on the field, missing catches, and a stumping opportunity.
Iyer then hit Tabraiz Shamsi for a couple of sixes over long-on. Kishan brought up his third T20 fifty in style as he whacked Maharaj for a six, over dip midwicket. In the groove, he then took the spinner to the cleaners in his next over launching the ball for back-to-back sixes before hitting two fours.
However, Maharaj finally redeemed himself as Ishan hit the length ball straight in the hands of David Miller at wide long-on. Iyer too departed soon after.
Captain Pant and his deputy Pandya, who returned to the side after leading his side Gujarat Titans to the IPL title, then hit a flurry of fours and sixes to provide the final flourish.