DHARMASALA, Oct 2 (IANS): Rohit Sharma's 66-ball 106 went in vain, as Jean-Paul Duminy and A.B. de Villiers played a blinder of an innings to steer South Africa to a comfortable seven-wicket win over India in the first Twenty20 International (T20I) at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) Stadium here on Friday.
Duminy (68 of 34 balls, 1x4 7x6) and Farhaan Behardien (32 of 23 balls, 4x4 1x6) remained unbeaten as South Africa chased down India's challenging score of 199/5 in 20 overs to post 200/3 in 19.4 overs.
While de Villiers (51 of 32 balls) started the proceedings for the visitors in the run chase, Duminy and Behardien stitched an unbeaten 105-run stand for the fourth wicket to script a memorable victory for the visitors and thus help South Africa go 1-0 up in three-match series.
South Africa got off to a flying start scoring over ten an over in the first seven overs. But batsman Hashim Amla (36) who was looking set ran himself out in the eighth over, handing India their breakthrough.
But the wicket didn't bother his partner, de Villiers who went on scoring freely and helping his side maintain a steady run rate. But just after completing his half-century, he tried to step put off the bowling off Ravichandran Ashwin but the clever spinner bowled a lot slower and the ball brushed his back thigh and deflected on to the stumps.
Skipper Faf du Plessis (4) didn't trouble the scoring too much as he went back cheaply putting the visitors in a bit of trouble in a chase of 200. The team was 95/3 in 11th over then.
But Duminy and Behardien played sensibly, using all their experience to build on a match winning partnership to take the visitors home.
For India, Ravichandran Ashwin (1/26) was the pick of the bowlers.
Earlier after being sent into bat, India received a setback when opener Shikhar Dhawan (3) was run out while trying to steal a single after a misfield. His valiant dive wasn't enough to save his wicket as India were reduced to 22/1 in 3.1 overs.
The other opener Sharma (106, 12x4, 5x6) though tried to shake off the disappointment and hit some lusty blows to rev up India's run rate, which reached 50 in 6.4 overs.
Kohli (43 of 27 balls, 1x4, 3x6) also joined the act, hitting a consecutive six and a four at the start of the eighth over off pacer Chris Morris.
Sharma reached the 50-run mark in the ninth over, guiding a wide delivery off pacer Kyle Abbott to the boundary.
The Sharma-Kohli 138-run second wicket partnership enabled India to launch a no-holds-barred charge in the death overs.
Sharma began the charge scoring boundaries almost at will. The 28-year-old right-hander brought up his century with a majestic six over long on off pacer Merchant de Lange in the 15th over.
Kohli also achieved a personal milestone in the process, becoming the first Indian to score 1,000 runs in T20 internationals.
Though first Kohli and then Sharma departed in the same over, dismissed by Abbott, India were firmly placed to post a strong total. Abbot was South Africa's most successful bowler picking up two wickets for 29 runs.
India: Rohit Sharma c Morris b Abbott 106; Shikhar Dhawan run out (de Lange/de Villiers) 3; Virat Kohli c Duminy b Abbott 43; Suresh Raina lbw b Morris 14; Mahendra Singh Dhoni not out 20; Ambati Rayudu run out (Amla/Morris) 0; Axar Patel not out 2; Extras (lb 2, w 8, nb 1) 11; Total (5 wickets; 20 overs) 199; Fall of wickets 1-22 (Dhawan, 3.1 overs), 2-160 (Kohli, 15.3), 3-162 (Rohit, 15.6), 4-184 (Raina, 18.3), 5-184 (Rayudu, 18.4)
Bowling: Kyle Abbott 4-0-29-2; Kagiso Rabada 4-0-32-0; Merchant de Lange 4-0-47-0; Chris Morris 4-0-46-1; Imran Tahir 3-0-35-0; Jean-Paul Duminy 1-0-8-0
South Africa: Hashim Amla run out (Kumar/Ashwin) 36; AB de Villiers b Ashwin 51; F du Plessis b Aravind 4; J.P. Duminy not out 68; Farhaan Behardien not out 32; Extras (lb 5, w 4) 9 ; Total (3 wickets; 19.4 overs) 200; Fall of wickets 1-77 (Amla, 7.4 overs), 2-93 (de Villiers, 9.5), 3-95 (du Plessis, 10.3)
Bowling: Bhuvneshwar Kumar 4-0-40-0; Sreenath Aravind 3.4-0-44-1; Mohit Sharma 4-0-40-0; Axar Patel 4-0-45-0; Ravichandran Ashwin 4-0-26-1