Rishabh Pant top-scored with 85 off 71 as India put up a healthy 287 for 6, batting first in the 2nd ODI of the three-match series against South Africa in Paarl. Pant and skipper KL Rahul (55 off 79) featured in a third-wicket stand of 115 to lift India from 64 for 2.
The middle order again stumbled as India went from 179 for 2 to 239 for 6. However, an unbroken seventh-wicket stand of 48 between Shardul Thakur (40*) and Ravichandran Ashwin (25*) pushed India past 280.
Earlier in the innings, while Pant was at his attacking best, Rahul played a chancy knock as he was handed three lives. The Indian captain was dropped on 8 at gully off Lungi Ngidi’s bowling at the start of the 5th over.
On 27, Rahul was involved with a horrible mix-up with Pant as both batters found themselves at one end. Keshav Maharaj, at the bowler’s end, could not collect the throw cleanly and Rahul survived rather miraculously.
He had another life on 46 as Aiden Markram spilled a catch at point. Rahul couldn’t capitalize on the chances though, and perished after his half-century, caught off Sisanda Magala while attempting a flick.
India got off to a good start as Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan (29) added 63 for the opening wicket. The latter fell to Markram, slog-sweeping the spinner to deep midwicket.
India were dealt a big blow soon after as Virat Kohli perished for a five-ball duck. The former captain chipped left-arm spinner Maharaj straight to cover as India threatened to concede the advantage again.
Rishabh Pant to the rescue
Coming in at No. 4, Pant played an excellent knock, slamming 10 fours and two sixes. He was in his element from the start of his innings, slog-sweeping Maharaj for a maximum over wide-long on.
He took on Tabraiz Shamsi (2/57) in the 24th over and clubbed him for three fours. The boundaries kept flowing for the 24-year-old as he eased to 50 off 43 balls. He second six also came off Shamsi as the batter danced down the track and lofted one over over long-on.
However, the canny left-arm spinner had the last laugh as Pant holed out to long-on while attempting another big hit. The southpaw’s dismissal proved to be a momentum-breaker as India lost their way after his dismissal.
Shreyas Iyer (11) was trapped lbw by Shamsi for 11, while Venkatesh Iyer (22) was stumped off Andile Phehlukwayo in a similar manner to how Pant was dismissed in the 1st ODI.
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India were in danger of being bowled out but Thakur and Ashwin batted sensibly to give the visitors some momentum heading into the break.