In the third T20, India’s bowling squad mounted a stunning comeback to win by runs and denied South Africa a series victory. The guys in blue now have a chance to win the series with two games left. After Ruturaj Gaikwad (57) and Ishan Kishan (54) hammered stunning half-centuries to lift India to 179 for five, Yuzvendra Chahal and Harshal Patel claimed three and four wickets, respectively.

After starter Gaikwad turned things around with magnificent innings and Ishan got his second fifty of the series, the bowlers came up big. Gaikwad, who has been criticized for his inconsistent form of late, smashed two maximums and seven fours in his 35-ball innings, while Ishan, who was urged to take the first strike, also scored 35 runs in 35 balls.

In the fourth over, Rishabh Pant deployed the spinners early to defend the score, and Axar Patel struck with a fuller ball as Temba Bavuma (8) holed out to Avesh Khan. Harshal varied his deliveries superbly to dismiss Reeza Hendricks (23) and David Miller (3), then returned to dismiss Kagiso Rabada (9) and Tabraiz Shamsi (0) as South Africa were all out for 131. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/21) bowled with a lot of passion, as well.

Gaikwad and Ishan both smashed two sixes and shared 12 boundaries in the first half, but South Africa tightened the clamps in the second half to hold India within 180. After a cautious start, Gaikwad took control and burst in the fifth over, smacking five consecutive boundaries off Anrich Nortje. If he cut the first one with ease, he danced down the track for the next four. The ball struck Gaikwad’s grill when he was attempting to move away from a vicious bouncer, resulting in the third boundary.

Gaikwad then punished Nortje by sending the fifth ball over the third man for bowling a half-volley. As India reached 57 for no loss in six overs, the Maharashtra batsman also smashed Dwaine Pretorius over deep backward square for his second six of the series. In the ninth over, Ishan, who had been playing second fiddle, got in on the act, smashing Shamsi’s overpitched ball for a maximum before sweeping him for another four as the overproduced 13 runs.

With India on 97 for one at the midway point, Gaikwad achieved his fifty in 30 balls and then greeted Keshav Maharaj with an inside-out lift for a four, but the spinner had him caught off his bowling. Ishan then treated Maharaj like royalty, hitting two fours and a six on his way to a 31-ball fifty, his second of the series. New-man Shreyas Iyer looked in excellent form as he hit a six off both Nortje and Shamsi, but the spinner removed him with Nortje timing his leap perfectly for a superb catch.

By getting rid of Ishan, who was nabbed by Hendricks, Pretorius pushed India even farther behind. David Miller and Rassie van der Dussen lost two sitters to bring Hardik Pandya (29) and Rishabh Pant back into the game (6).

As South Africa slowed things down, Temba Bavuma ultimately grabbed one off Pretorius to eliminate Pant. From over 13 to 17, the hosts scored only 20 runs while losing two wickets, but Hardik Pandya pushed them near to 180 with some lusty hits in the latter stages. The caravan is now on its way to Rajkot, where the Indian team will attempt to tie the series. On the other side, South Africa will attempt a comeback to win the series.

(Input PTI/IndiaTV)