Surya’s fourth T20I ton sets up easy victory for India | Cricket

Suryakumar Yadav never ceases to amaze as a T20 batter. In Johannesburg on Thursday, the 33-year-old, leading India in the three-match T20 series versus South Africa, produced another sublime knock worthy of unqualified praise, bringing up his fourth century (equalling Rohit Sharma and Glenn Maxwell for the most hundreds in T20Is) in just 57 innings to take his side to 201/7. Never mind his stuttering ODI career, Suryakumar has clearly cracked the shortest format, showing a rare ability to rack up big scores while scoring at a rapid rate. Yashasvi Jaiswal was also among the runs at the Wanderers, hitting 60 off 41 balls after failing to score in the previous game.

India’s captain Suryakumar Yadav celebrates his century during the 3rd T20I against South Africa (BCCI)

South Africa were skittled for 95 in 13.5 overs in response, allowing India to clinch a 106-run victory and draw the series. Left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav took career-best T20I figures of 5/17.

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That the surface was a belter was evident as India raced to 29/0 in two overs. Shubman Gill hit three fours in the first over by debutant Nandre Burger and Jaiswal took 15 runs off the next over by Aiden Markram, notably stepping out and driving the part-time off-spinner over cover for six.

While Keshav Maharaj dismissed Gill and Tilak Varma off successive deliveries in the third over, it had no bearing on India’s scoring rate in the powerplay. Jaiswal welcomed Lizaad Williams by pulling the pacer’s third delivery over deep square leg for six. In the same over, Suryakumar’s wristy flick sent a full ball towards midwicket for another six. Even better was his six against Maharaj, stepping down the track for a nonchalant flick over the midwicket boundary.

A score of 62/2 in six overs meant the stage was set for a commanding total. Jaiswal ensured their momentum wasn’t squandered, cutting left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi for two fours in the eighth over. When Williams again pitched the ball short in the 12th over, Jaiswal had no hesitation in rocking back and pulling through midwicket for six.

Suryakumar did slow down briefly — he didn’t hit a boundary for 17 deliveries — before shimmying down and lofting Maharaj over extra cover for a six in the 11th over. He found an altogether different gear once he hit that boundary, picking 22 runs off Andile Phehlukwayo in the 13th over. He peppered the leg side for three sixes, first picking a slower ball early and smashing it over wide long-on. An elegant on-drive and another flick followed in quick succession, enabling India to reach 131/2 in 13 overs. During the over, Suryakumar brought up his second successive fifty — he scored 56 in the second T20I — off 32 balls.

In the next over, Suryakumar dispatched a wrong ’un by Shamsi over extra cover for his seventh six of the innings. Shamsi found some joy when he had Jaiswal holing out to Reeza Hendricks at long off, but the arrival of the in-form Rinku Singh with six overs remaining was ideal for India.

Not that Rinku had to do much with Suryakumar in irresistible touch. The 16th over by Burger went for 17 runs, Suryakumar again showing the range that makes him the top-ranked batter in this format. There was the trademark ramp over fine leg for six, but equally exquisite was a wristy punch that pierced the gap between long on and deep midwicket to perfection.

The margin for error became so minimal against Suryakumar that even a wide yorker by Williams was steered past short third for a boundary. Rinku’s 10-ball 14 included the lone six, swatting Shamsi into the short leg-side boundary all too easily. Suryakumar’s superlative effort came to an end in the final over but not before he had reached a century in 55 deliveries.

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