Aiden Markram was left thanking his lucky stars after Virat Kohli dropped a sitter in the deep in South Africa’s five-wicket T20 World Cup victory over India in Perth.
In reply to India’s modest 9-133 on Sunday, South Africa were struggling at 3-40 after 10 overs on a tricky batting wicket.
South Africa cracked 16 runs off the next over to signal their intent, but the night looked over for Markram when he struck Ravichandran Ashwin straight to Kohli at deep midwicket in the 12th over.
Kohli juggled the ball twice before it hit the grass, giving Markram a life on 35.
Markram was given another reprieve on 36 when Rohit Sharma missed a close-range run-out chance.
The 28-year-old opener took advantage of the let-offs to bring up his half-century off 38 balls, before eventually being dismissed for 52.
David Miller (59no off 46 balls) kept the momentum going once his partner departed, crushing Ashwin for consecutive sixes in the 18th before South Africa achieved the victory target with two balls to spare.
“(I had) a bit of luck,” a relieved Markram said after the match.
“Sometimes you get the rub of the green and sometimes you don’t. At the end of the day you have to be grateful when you do get a bit of luck in the game.”
South Africa now have two wins and a no-result to their name, putting them on top of Group 2 and in an excellent position to advance to the semi-finals.
“We’re certainly not thinking we’ve got a foot in the door at the moment,” Markram said.
“We’ve still got a massive game against Pakistan, and then we’ve got the Netherlands as well. We’ve seen the teams that have joined the Super 12 stage can beat any team on their day.”
India (2-1) remain in a good position to advance as well despite suffering their first defeat of the tournament.
But they will be sweating on the fitness of wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik after he limped off during South Africa’s innings with a back injury.
Mohammed Shami was excellent for India with figures of 1-13 off four overs, while Arshdeep Singh snared 2-25.
Earlier, Suryakumar Yadav (68 off 40 balls) survived top-order carnage to lift India to a defendable total.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, India slumped to 5-49 following an inspired spell from Lungi Ngidi (4-29).
Ngidi claimed the key scalps of KL Rahul (9), Sharma, Kohli (12) and Hardik Pandya (2) to rip the heart out of India.
But it was ultimately India’s sloppy performance in the field that came back to haunt them.
“Catches win matches, or good fielding wins matches,” India paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar said.
“The catches we dropped or the run out chances we missed … we knew that if we could have got those chances, things could have been different.”