India needed to make a statement in this 2nd T20I in Cuttack to keep themselves in the series. Umm, a statement they did make – they are still very much a work in progress in the shortest format of the game, which is not the greatest of signs heading into the World T20 next year.
On a sluggish wicket – the kind of pitch that should never be played on in a T20 game, because whatever it is, this is a batsman's format and the crowd come in their droves to see big hits sail over the ropes -- India, put into bat by Faf Du Plessis again, lost their mojo and their running prowess to crash to 92 all out in 17.2 overs – their second lowest score in T20Is.
South Africa had a hiccup courtesy some outstanding bowling from R Ashwin, who took three wickets, but JP Duminy snuffed out any hopes of a stirring comeback from India, with SA reaching their target with 2.5 overs and six wickets to spare.
There were ugly scenes at the Barabati Stadium, with the first one starting during the mid-innings break, before it returned after the 11th over of the South Africa innings, as bottles rained onto the ground left, right and centre from the capacity crowd, who clearly did not like what they were seeing.
It is a pity that the India fans just don't seem to be able to take disappointment too well, and vent their feelings in such a manner, but all that does is leave an even more sourer taste in the mouth.
The bottles continued a couple of overs after resumption of play, with South Africa on 70/3 in 13 overs, needing another 23 runs for victory. A further half an hour break later and following a complete clearing out of the crowd from where the bottles were thrown, play resumed and Duminy (30, 39b, 3x4) – Behardien fell lbw to Axar Patel -- saw South Africa home.
From the off, it was clear this was not going to be a 200-run wicket, like the one in Dharamsala on Friday, but it wasn't a 92 all out wicket either as India never really got out of first gear. Shikhar Dhawan (11, 12b, 2x4) continues to look like a lost soul in T20 international cricket, and Chris Morris picked the left-hander up in the fourth over, trapping him in front of off stump.
A couple of balls later and India were two down as Virat Kohli was run out, going for a second he never really looked comfortable taking. Morris was the man to make the impact again, firing in a quick throw from the deep, with AB De Villiers doing the rest.
If a recovery partnership was expected, it just wouldn't come, as Rohit played with fire, going for a quick single, with David Miller brilliantly running the centurion from the last game out with a perfect direct hit.
Ambati Rayudu, another looking so out of his depth, came and went, missing a full toss from Albie Morkel and seeing the ball crash onto the stumps, before Dhoni also fell to the same bowler – after a 22-run partnership with Suresh Raina.
It was all on Raina now, if India were to get above 120 and make a game of it, but the left-hander followed Dhoni back to the pavilion soon after, chipping a drive to short cover off Imran Tahir, who would then make it two wickets in two ball by castling Harbhajan Singh, in the side for Sreenath Aravind, with a wonderful googly.
The resistance did not last too long from there, with India on 69/7, and South Africa wrapped up the innings quickly enough.
The reply showed a couple of signs of "Oh we might have a game here", with Hashim Amla, Du Plessis and AB De Villiers falling to Ashwin (4-0-24-3), but once JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien came into the middle together, they again ensured there would be no incredible India comeback, before the bottle-throwing farce brought the match to an early end.