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SA v IND, 2nd ODI: Pant top-scores with 85 as India reach 287/6

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Paarl, Jan 21 (IANS) Rishabh Pant top-scored with a rear-guard act of 85 (71 balls) as India reached 287/6 in the second ODI against South Africa at Boland Park on Friday. After a fluent start of 63/0 became 64/2 quickly, Pant shared a 115-run stand with KL Rahul (55 off 79 balls) which ensured the visitors’ got a respectable total on a used pitch.

South Africa, despite four dropped catches, were clinical in their bowling show, restricting India from 179/2 in 31 overs to 207/5 in 37 overs. Tabraiz Shamsi was the pick of the bowlers for the hosts, taking 2/57 in nine overs while Aiden Markram took 1/34 in eight overs and Keshav Maharaj had 1/52 in nine overs.

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After winning the toss, India blazed to 57/0 in the first ten overs. Shikhar Dhawan was strong in flicking and driving off pacers Sisanda Magala and Lungi Ngidi. KL Rahul pounced on a short ball from Magala through point and after Janneman Malan dropped his catch at gully, got another boundary off Ngidi through a misfield at cover point.

But South Africa clawed back into the match, thanks to Markram and Maharaj. Dhawan was the first to depart, slog-sweeping straight to Magala at deep mid-wicket as Markram broke the opening partnership, yet again. Maharaj, on the other hand, troubled Virat Kohli with turn and bounce twice before getting the right-hander to drive on the up to extra cover, dismissing him for a five-ball duck.

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After surviving a terrible miscommunication almost resulting in a run-out of Rahul, Pant broke the shackles with a huge slog-sweep off Maharaj for six followed by Rahul attacking Maharaj and Markram for a boundary each. Pant began to take centre stage in the counter-attack, collecting boundaries regularly off Maharaj and Markram.

With Rahul holding the fort from the other end, Pant continued his controlled-aggression mode, welcoming Shamsi with three boundaries (swept twice followed by a late cut). In the next over, Pant reached his fifty with a single through cover and continued to smash boundaries for fun. South Africa’s woeful time on the field continued as Rahul was dropped on 46 by Markram at backward point.

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Pant continued to hit Shamsi for runs, including a one-handed six down the ground after a whip past mid-on. With Rahul reaching his fifty and Pant going strong, India had got a great platform to accelerate. But the 115-run partnership for the third wicket was ended by Magala, as Rahul flicked to short mid-wicket, departing for 55. In the very next over, Pant danced down the pitch to loft Shamsi but holed out to long-on.

Following the duo’s fall, India were unable to get the momentum back. Shreyas Iyer was given not out on an lbw appeal off Shamsi. But the bowler got to change the decision as replays showed the ball crashing into stumps. Venkatesh Iyer was dropped by Rassie van der Dussen at cover but couldn’t make the most of it as Quinton de Kock effected a very sharp stumping when t’e left-hander’s back-foot was up in the air.

Shardul Thakur continued to take boundaries off Andile Phehlukwayo before giving the same treatment to Shamsi and Maharaj. Ravichandran Ashwin joined the party by sweeping Maharaj over deep mid-wicket fence before finishing off the innings with a boundary crunched over extra cover off Magala as the unbeaten 48-run stand lifted India to a 280-plus score.

Brief Scores: India 287/6 in 50 overs (Rishabh Pant 85, KL Rahul 55; Tabraiz Shamsi 2/57, Aiden Markram 1/34) against South Africa

–IANS

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