Karthik blitz guides India to 169-6 in must win T20

Dinesh Karthik smashed his maiden Twenty20 international fifty to lift India to 169 for six in their attempt to stay alive in the series against South Africa on Friday.

India slipped to 81-4 in Rajkot after being invited to bat first before Karthik, who hit 55 off 27 balls, put on a crucial 65-run stand with Hardik Pandya, who made 46, to give the team a competitive total in the fourth match.

The hosts trail the five-match series 2-1.

Returning fast bowler Lungi Ngidi struck first with the wicket of Ruturaj Gaikwad as he got the batsman caught behind for five.

Marco Jansen trapped Shreyas Iyer lbw for four in the next over and fellow quick Anrich Nortje sent back the left-handed Ishan Kishan to put India in trouble at 40-3 in 6.1 overs.

Skipper Rishabh Pant and Pandya then attempted to rebuild the innings in a 41-run stand against a disciplined spell of bowling by the opposition.

Pandya took on Tabraiz Shamsi’s left-arm wrist spin with two big sixes but fellow slow bowler Keshav Maharaj broke through at the other to send back the Pant for 17.Pandya stood firm and found an able ally in Karthik who smashed Nortje for two boundaries in a 15-run 16th over to set the tone for a big finish.

The in-form batsman soon changed gears and smashed Dwaine Pretorius for a six and two boundaries to bring alive a nearly packed house.

Pandya fell after his 31-ball knock including three sixes but Karthik reached his fifty with a six only to get out next ball off Pretorius. India managed 73 in the last five overs.

The tourists need 170 to clinch the series.

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