If the majority of the matches in the ICC World T20 2016 are going to be anything like this warmup game at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai between India and South Africa, we are in for one heck of a tournament.
India, coming off a big win over the West Indies in Kolkata, went down to South Africa by four runs in a high-scorer, but the result should matter little as both sides showed their batting prowess, and that too with Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers scoring a total of one run between them.
Batting first, South Africa posted 196/8 in their 20 overs, thanks to half-centuries from Quinton de Kock and JP Duminy, with India falling just short at 192/3 as Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina shone with the bat, just not enough to get their team over the line.
The beginning of India's chase was far from ideal as their two best batsmen – Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, who sat out the win over the West Indies Thursday – fell early, leaving the home team on 16/2 after the first ball of the third over.
However, when Rohit and Kohli failed, Dhawan prospered, with the left-hander playing the perfect T20 innings to ensure India would, at the very least, make a game of this. He found an able partner, for a while, in Ajinkya Rahane (11, 9b), but once the right-hander fell to Imran Tahir, it was the time of the left-handers as Suresh Raina joined Dhawan at the crease.
With the equation reading a scary 149 from 13.4 overs, Dhawan and Raina did not panic, playing normal cricket and nicely and surely taking the game close, which is what you always need to do in a big chase. The equation came down to a still-quite-difficult 60 from the last 30 balls.
A brilliant 16th over from Kyle Abbott, though, where he conceded just five runs, made it all the more for difficult for India.
India retired Dhawan (73, 53b, 10x4) and Raina (41, 26b, 3x4, 2x6), who put on 94 in under 10 overs -- after the Abbott over, with skipper MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh coming in to try and knock off the remaining 55 runs from the final four overs.
They took 12 runs off the Chris Morris to still keep things interesting. A 15-run over off Dale Steyn, courtesy a six and a four from Dhoni (31, 16b, 4x4, 1x6), kept those excitement juices flowing, with India needing 28 off the last two overs.
Yuvraj (16, 8b, 1x4, 1x6) struck a four and a six in the next over, from Abbott, to make it 14 needed from the final over for India.
That final over was bowled by Chris Morris, who held his nerve, just about, conceding ten runs to hand South Africa the game.
The South Africa innings was all about De Kock and JP Duminy. De Kock, if he could, would play India in every single game, in every format, such is his liking for the bowlers in blue. In form, out of form or can't-buy-a-run form, when De Kock plays India, he scores runs, simple as that.
In this warmup in Mumbai, De Kock smashed 56 from 33 balls, which was studded with seven fours and two sixes. With two of the top three – Hashim Amla and Faf Du Plessis -- failing to score too many runs, De Kock had to contribute, and there wasn't that much doubt anyway, considering India were the opponents.
What De Kock also needed was a partner alongside to set the game up for a smash-bang finish in the end, and he got that and more from JP Duminy, who played, if anything, an even better innings of 67 (44b, 6x4, 3x6). Their partnership of 77 runs at over nine runs an over, ensured South Africa would post a big score.
The duo were particularly severe on the fast bowlers of India, with Jasprit Bumrah going for 51 runs in his four overs, albeit with a couple of wickets, while Mohammed Shami, who encouragingly bowled all four overs again, and Hardik Pandya went for 37 and 36 runs respectively.