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Mohali: Skipper Virat Kohli led India to a resounding seven-wicket win over South Africa in the second T20 International with an unbeaten 72-run knock as the hosts took a 1-0 lead in the short three-match series here on Wednesday.
Kohli (72 not out off 52 balls), who made a memorable 82 not out in his last T20 on this ground more than three years ago, helped India chased down the modest target with consummate ease, getting the team home in 19 overs. With this, India skipper became the highest T20I run-getter with 2,441 runs under his belt in the shortest format of the game from 77 matches, surpassing his teammate Rohit Sharma, who has 2,434 runs from 97 matches. The third position is held by New Zealand batter Martin Guptill with 2,283 runs. Opener Shikhar Dhawan (40 off 31) too made a significant contribution and shared a 61-run stand with the skipper, who scored his 22nd T20 fifty.
His 52-ball knock comprised four boundaries and three sixes. The solid performance with the bat came after the bowlers restricted South Africa to 149 for five in 20 overs. The third and final T20 will be played in Bengaluru on Sunday. It effectively became a two-match series after the opening game in Dharamsala was washed out on September 15. India were always in control of the chase despite losing Rohit Sharma (12 off 12) early. The India vice-captain was trapped in front by Andile Phehlukwayo after he pulled debutant Anrich Nortje for two sixes in the second over. While it was a treat to watch Kohli, Rishabh Pant (4) threw away his wicket again. India were cruising when he came into the middle and it was an ideal platform for Pant to take the team over the line alongside his captain. It was an innocuous ball from debutant spinner Bjorn Fortuin but Pant hit it straight to the short fine-leg fielder Tabraiz Shamsi. Earlier, South Africa captain Quinton de Kock (52 off 37) and debutant Temba Bavuma (49 off 43) played impressive knocks but India managed to limit South Africa to a below-par total. South Africa did not get the final flourish they were looking for. India bowled well in the death overs, conceding only 24 runs in the final four with pacer Deepak Chahar being the pick of the bowlers, taking two wickets for 22 runs in four overs.
Kohli sent a new-look South Africa in to bat with the visitors picking three debutants in Nortje, Fortuin and Bavuma. India took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.The third T20I between India and South Africa will be played on September 22 at M Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru. (PTI)