Perth: Suryakumar Yadav produced his most accomplished knock in extremely adverse conditions but India only managed a sub-par 133 for 9 after South African pacers exposed the top-order’s inadequacies against pace and bounce in a T20 World Cup match here on Sunday.
Perhaps the world’s most decorated T20I batter in recent times, Surya’s pulled six and a bowler’s back-drive boundary off Lungi Ngidi to complete his half-century will be remembered for times to come.
His 68 off 40 balls will be in ICC’s T20 ‘Hall Of Fame’ and how he looked like batter from another planet was evident with the second best score being 15.
Those were the only boundaries scored off Ngidi, who enjoyed a wonderful evening with figures of 4 for 29 that laid bare the frailties of the Indian top-order when there is pace off the track and the ball starts rearing up from back of length.
On a track where good technique and steely temperament was needed, Surya added another component to it – swagger.
At 49 for 5, India looked deep down the barrel as some of the top-order players were failing to get their bats down in time as the ball reached the keeper’s gloves.
In a stand of 52, he shielded veteran Dinesh Karthik (6 off 15 balls), who is not exactly known for sound technique on bowler friendly tracks.
On a bouncy track, the key element is to shuffle and come inside the line of deliveries and ride the bounce. The Mumbaikar exactly did that time and again on Sunday night.
He didn’t try to counter the pace but used it to play behind the square mostly. When the lone spinner Keshav Maharaj came into operation, he used the extra bounce to first play the late cut and then a lap sweep over deep fine leg for a maximum.
Rohit Sharma’s (15) decision to bat first on a spicy deck looked brave and while all eyes were on Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, it was reserve pacer Ngidi who did bulk of the damage.
But it all started when a horribly out-of-form KL Rahul (9 off 14 balls) played a maiden over off Wayne Parnell’s bowling. The windy and cold conditions helped Parnell to pitch it full and get enough deviations to beat Rahul’s bat multiple times.
That increased the pressure on skipper Rohit, who first tried to relieve pressure with a hooked six and flicked boundary off Rabada but Ngidi bowled the ‘heavy ball’ that was pitched back of length and climbed on him.
Rahul has full support of management but he has never shown enough gusto in difficult conditions and important games. It continued as Test match length, shade away movement and extra bounce outside the off-stump became his undoing.
Virat Kohli (12) had first low score in the tournament. Poor Deepak Hooda had not played on a track as pacy as this one and the first ball he faced, he couldn’t bring his bat down. The second delivery, he could barely edge and was back in the dug-out.
It was Surya who saved India from blushes with a knock that had six fours and three sixes.