Bengaluru, September 22: India failed to solve the South African puzzle in a home T20I series once again as they went down by 9 wickets in the third and final match at the M Chinnaswamy stadium here on Sunday (September 22).
The genesis of South Africa's series-levelling win was in their fine bowling effort that saw India limping to 134 for nine in their allotted 20 overs. South Africa did not have any major hiccups while hunting down the target with skipper Quinton de Kock leading the way with an unbeaten 79 off 52 balls with six 4s and five 6s.
But the story of the night was offered by Indian batsmen. After Virat Kohli won the toss and batted by choice, Indian batsmen, including Kohli, could not vindicate the decision. The home side had to go through the disappointment of seeing Rohit Sharma departing early once again.
And his dismissal was almost a repeat take of his Mohali innings. In Mohali, he got out after two sixes and here he got out after two fours and a single. And it sort of became the tagline of rest of the Indian innings.
The lone exception was Shikhar Dhawan who was fluent for a better part of his innings. But he could not kick on and get a bigger score as an attempt to send Tabraiz Shamsi ended in the hands of Tembe Bauvma.
The second-wicket alliance between Kohli and Dhawan was worth 41 runs and it stood as the finest period in Indian innings and that too because of the fluency of Dhawan.
However, once Dhawan departed India lost four wickets for 34 runs in around 8 overs that snapped their momentum built through Dhawan-Kohli innings. Kohli too soon fell in his effort to accelerate, smashing Kagiso Rabada to Andile Phelhkuwayo at mid-wicket.
Rishabh Pant had a golden chance to silence his critics but all he could was scratch around against South African bowlers, Bjorn Fortuin and Beuran Hendricks in particular, who mixed their deliveries and varied the pace ever so intelligently.
But finally, his patience dried up and went for a big shot against Fortuin putting Phelhkuwayo in business once again. That Indian innings had more than seven overs left at that stage will rankle Pant.
And batsmen came down the order including in-form Shreyas Iyer could not resist the on the money South African bowlers, and the whole turmoil was mirrored in them losing three wickets in the final over.
A target of 135 was never going to test the South African batsmen unless the Indian bowlers came up with something bordering in miraculous. But there was nothing of that nature. De Kock's second fifty successive fifty of the series propelled them to an easy win.