After scoring 211 in the first T20I, Team India did not have a great day at the office in the second T20I as the hosts only posted 148/6 in 20 overs against South Africa in Cuttack. This total did not prove to be enough as South Africa chased it down with four wickets in hand and 10 balls to spare. Eyebrows were raised when Axar Patel was sent ahead of Dinesh Karthik and the move did not pay off as the left-hander departed after scoring 10 off 11 balls while Karthik remained unbeaten on 30.

It was due to Karthik’s blitz in the final over that India managed to go past the 140-run mark. Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith was left fuming at the call to send Axar ahead of Karthik and he even went on to term the all-rounder as a “bits and pieces batter”.

“In what world does an all-rounder, who is a bits and pieces batter walk in ahead of a frontline batter? I just do not understand this. Dinesh Karthik is one of the most experienced cricketers in India, how many games he has played for India, over 160. Never mind the IPL, anything else he has played. How can you send Axar Patel ahead of him. This is just mind-blowing for me,” Smith told Star Sports after the second T20I between India and South Africa.

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar also said that Karthik should have come ahead of Axar and sometimes the labels like “finisher” do not help a side.

“Definitely, definitely. There is no question about it (on whether Dinesh Karthik should have come ahead of Axar Patel). Sometimes there are these labels like a finisher. And when you talk about a finisher you think he will come only after the 15th over. He can’t come in the 12th or the 13th over. And we have seen these happen in the IPL as well. A lot of teams have only kept their big hitters for the last 4-5 overs,” said Gavaskar.

“When actually, if they had been sent earlier, because they have the ability to work the ball around, they don’t necessarily have to start hitting sixes from the time they come in. But the fact that they get to the batting area, they are moving the ball around and they get the feel of what the pitch is doing then those last five overs where they can throw their bat around becomes that much easier,” he added.

In the second T20I, South Africa won the toss and opted to bowl. India posted 148/6 in 20 overs with Shreyas Iyer top-scoring with 40.

Dinesh Karthik remained unbeaten on 30 off 21 balls. For South Africa, Anrich Nortje returned with two wickets.


India were unable to defend the total even after Bhuvneshwar Kumar took four wickets.

India and South Africa will next square off in the third T20I on Tuesday.

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