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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Rilee Rossouw’s century powers Proteas to consolation T20 win over India

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Cape Town — If the emphasis of this series against India was more about finding answers ahead of the T20 Cup later this month than actually winning it, then Rilee Rossouw has certainly nailed down the No 3 spot for the tournament in Australia.

Such is the options South Africa have at their disposal at the top of the order, that Rossouw’s two ducks at the start of the series had left his place open to debate. But after a blitzkrieg on Tuesday evening where the powerful left-hander blasted, smashed and boomed a 100 not out from 48 balls with eight sixes and seven fours that discussion is now closed.

Rossouw’s dynamism powered SA to a mammoth 227/3, and ultimately a comfortable 49-run consolation victory.

It would be easy, perhaps valid, to suggest that the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore is a postage-stamp ground where batters come to feast and that Rossouw was fortunate to be dropped on 24, but that is to overlook the Free Stater’s magnificence in striking two career-best scores since returning to the Proteas team this past winter after his self-imposed Kolpak exile.

Rossouw pulled, ramped, carved, sliced and paddled India’s bowling unit – albeit without the in-from Arshdeep Singh – to all parts. On the basis of this innings, the T20 Cup in Australia, where the 32-year-old made his T20 debut in 2014, and Rossouw’s part in it now cannot come soon enough.

Equally for Quinton de Kock. Just a game ago the brainstrust would seriously have been pondering whether a change at the top and behind the stumps was required, such was De Kock’s perilous T20 form since the last T20 Cup 12 months ago in the United Arab Emirates.

But such is the rapid shift in momentum in the shortest format that De Kock now has two successive T20 half-centuries and is striking the ball as sweetly as he ever has. Last Sunday’s innings at Guwahati may have been torturous for De Kock, but it was a necessary evil for it allowed him to get back into the groove.

His 68 off 43 balls, which formed part of an 89-run partnership off 47 balls with Rossouw, was crucial in providing the early impetus after another Temba Bavuma failure on Tuesday.

And right there is the dark cloud that hovers over this Proteas team ahead of their departure for Australia. The captain has been particularly ordinary during this series, scoring just three runs in 19 balls across three matches, and is in dire need of some time at the crease if he is to spin the coin in the tournament opener in Hobart in less than 20 days time.

T20 cricket, and even more so in India during the powerplay, exposes any batter who is searching for timing, and Bavuma and SA will hope the upcoming one-day international series where there is simply more time to get back into the groove will provide some relief.

There was also a brief cameo from Tristan Stubbs (23 off 18 balls, 2×4, 1×6) that can be banked for the adventure Down Under, while the bowlers were much improved after the Guwahati nightmare.

The return of Dwaine Pretorius (3/26) for Anrich Nortje certainly played its part with the all-rounder’s skill proving invaluable, while there were also a couple of wickets for Keshav Maharaj (2/34), Wayne Parnell (2/41) and Lungi Ngidi (2/51) that ensured India were never really in the hunt to chase down the target despite a spirited cameo from the tailenders.

Scorecard

South Africa: 227/3 (Rossouw 100*, De Kock 68, Yadav 1/34)

India: 178 all out (Karthik 46, Chahar 31, Pretorius , Maharaj 2/34)

South Africa won by 49 runs, India win series 2-1

@ZaahierAdams

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