Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar helped India extend their dominance in the limited-overs leg of the South Africa tour to T20Is as the visitors kept the hosts on the mat with a comprehensive 28-run win at the Wanderers Stadium on Sunday to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
India had won the six-match ODI series 5-1.
Asked to bat first on Sunday, India scored a challenging 203/5 thanks to Dhawan's 72 off 39 balls and then saw Man-of-the-Match Bhuvneshwar stepping up to the plate with his maiden five-for in T20Is. The medium pacer's 5/24 helped Virat Kohli & Co restrict SA to 175/9.
The last over of Bhuvneshwar's spell, which was the 18th of SA innings, saw him take three wickets; however, he missed out on a hat-trick. In all, India claimed four wickets in those six balls, including the run-out of Dane Paterson (1) off the last.
Earlier in the innings, South Africa's chase looked to be back on track with the 81-run quickfire stand between Farhaan Behardien (39 off 27) and opener Reeza Hendricks (70 off 50), but once Yuzvendra Chahal broke the threatening fourth-wicket partnership in the 15th over dismissing the former, wheels came off the home team's run-chase.
Hendricks became Bhuvneshwar's first wicket in the decisive 18th over, after which he removed Heinrich Klaasen (16) and Chris Morris (0) as well to put an end to SA hopes.
Jaydev Unadkat, Hardik Pandya and Chahal took one wicket apiece.
The day began with India taking on the SA bowlers from ball one. It resulted in a quickfire 21 off 9 by Rohit Sharma and a 7-ball 15 by comeback man Suresh Raina, who was sent in to bat at No. 3. Both hit a few lusty blows in their brisk knock but threw their wickets away to debutant pacer Junior Dala (2/47).
India raised their hundred in the ninth over, courtesy of a 59-run stand between Kohli (26) and Dhawan. Kohli, who got a life when dropped by Behardien on 8, couldn't kick on and was trapped lbw by left-arm chinaman Tabraiz Shamsi.
Manish Pandey (29* off 27) then kept Dhawan company for 47 runs when the left-hander was ejected caught behind by Andile Phehlukwayo. It was Dhawan's fourth T20I half-century.
MS Dhoni (16 off 11) and Hardik Pandya (13* off 7) then used the long handle down the order to push India's score past the 200-run mark.
The second T20I will be played on February 21 in SuperSport Park at Centurion.