Late replacement Morne van Wyk upstaged the millionaires of the Indian Premier League but couldn’t stop India beating South Africa by 21 runs in a one-off Twenty20 international at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Sunday.
Van Wyk hit the fastest half-century by a South African in a 20-overs international but when he was out for 67 his team-mates subsided on a low, slow pitch.
India, spurred by an innings of 53 off 34 balls by Rohit Sharma, made 168 for six. South Africa, with black icon Makyaha Ntini playing his last international, could only manage 147 for nine.
Van Wyk, 31, who played the most recent of his previous six one-day internationals and two T20 internationals three seasons ago, was called up when Test captain Graeme Smith was ruled out by a heel injury.
On the weekend of the IPL auction, when the lowest-priced Indian player was signed up for $700,000 and several of his South African teammates attracted substantial bids, Van Wyk was the only South African to master the pitch and the Indian bowlers.
Van Wyk went to his half-century off 24 balls. He hit five sixes and five fours before being caught at deep square leg for 67, made off 39 deliveries.
Van Wyk and AB de Villiers (14) put on 57 off 29 balls for the third wicket but it was always going to be an uphill struggle after De Villiers was run out by a direct hit from Suresh Raina.
“When Morne and AB were going we were ahead of the rate,” said South African captain Johan Botha. “But for guys coming in it was difficult to keep up.”
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni admitted that conditions had suited India better than the hosts.
“After winning the toss the aim was to put runs on the board. Rohit batted really well. On this wicket it was a very good total to defend.”
The match marked the last international appearance of South African fast bowler Ntini, who got a rousing reception from a crowd of about 47,000 but conceded 46 runs off four overs without taking a wicket.
He had the consolation of holding a good catch on the long-on boundary to end Sharma’s innings.
Sharma, fresh from the news that he had been bought for two million dollars by IPL franchise Mumbai Indians, hit five fours and two sixes.
Suresh Raina hit 41 off 23 deliveries before being caught off the last ball of the innings going for a big hit.