PERTH: David Miller and Aiden Markram smashed half-centuries to lead South Africa to a five-wicket win over India in Perth on Sunday and put them in pole position for a semi-final berth at the Twenty20 World Cup.
South Africa’s bowlers, led by Lungi Ngidi, restricted India to 133-9 in Perth and then their batsmen passed their target with two balls to spare largely due to a 76-run stand between Miller, who scored 59 not out, and Markram, who made 52.
South Africa leapfrogged India and Bangladesh to the top of Group 2 with five points from three games, a point ahead. Zimbabwe have three points, Pakistan two and the Netherlands are rock bottom, yet to score a point.
India dragged the game into the final over with South Africa needing six to win and Miller finished off with two boundaries in his 46-ball innings.
India’s opening bowlers made early inroads on the quick and bouncy Perth wicket.
Left-arm quick Arshdeep Singh struck twice in the space of three deliveries of the second over with Quinton de Kock out for one and Rilee Rossouw, who made a century in the previous match against Bangladesh, this time out lbw for nought.
Markram hit back with two fours but captain Temba Bavuma’s dry run with the bat extended as he nicked one to the wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik while attempting a scoop shot off Mohammed Shami.
Markram and Miller took the innings to 40-3 at the halfway mark.
They then opened up against off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin with a boundary each in the 11th over but the bowler was left crestfallen when the normally safe hands of Virat Kohli at deep midwicket dropped a routine chance from Markram, on 35.
India were dogged by sloppy fielding as Rohit Sharma missed a run out and another catch going awry on the boundary.
Markram raised his fifty with a four and two runs off Arshdeep as South Africa closed in on their target.
Hardik Pandya broke the stand when Markram holed out to Suryakumar Yadav but Miller stood firm to see his team home.
Earlier Ngidi led a fiery pace onslaught to keep India to a below-par total after they chose to bat.
Yadav smashed a 40-ball 68, laced with six fours and three sixes, and put on a key stand of 52 with Dinesh Karthik to help India recover from 49-5.
Ngidi returned figures of 4-29 off his four overs, ably supported by fellow fast bowler Wayne Parnell who finished with 3-15 after starting the innings with a T20 rarity – a maiden over.
The in-form Yadav, who hit an unbeaten 51 against the Netherlands in their previous win, even smashed Ngidi for a huge six over fine leg to bring alive a large Indian contingent in the crowd. He reached his fifty off 30 balls with another four.
Karthik tried to join the attack but fell to Parnell, who broke a stand that had been worth 52 before the same bowler dismissed Yadav in the 19th over.