If the Gupta brothers wanted to go undetected on a balmy Sunday afternoon in Jozi‚ all they had to do was stroll down Corlett Drive and sweet-talk their way into the first T20 international against India.
From far and wide the visiting team garnered feverish support as they set about carrying their ODI form into the abbreviated white-ball format.
You could argue that, proportional to population, the number of India flags outnumbered SA’s.
In fact‚ 23,834 souls made it through the turnstiles‚ most in raucous support of the tourists even before they were seated.
Here the Guptas‚ of course‚ are no strangers to the Long Room‚ where they were once fêted while in tow of the country’s erstwhile No1. Or was it the other way around?
Their nefarious relationship extended as far as effectively having a seat on Cricket SA’s board‚ so it is hardly surprising that their interest is yet to be dislodged, with some of its last vestiges still visible at Kingsmead.
Here on Sunday‚ however‚ there was looting of a different kind as India cashed in early. Rohit Sharma took a shining to Dane Paterson as the Indians plundered 18 off the first over.
Later Shikhar Dhawan‚ who scored a scratchy ton on his last visit to the Wanderers’ middle‚ operated in concert with captain and batting virtuoso Virat Kohli as the pair, in slick fashion, added 59 off 35 deliveries.
There was the obligatory Kohli referral when he was struck on the pad by Tabraiz Shamsi and the outcome had many in the crowd with hands on head.
And that was just for Shamsi’s celebration.
Dhawan went on to score 72 and by the time Proteas captain JP Duminy had to call on his death bowlers he might well have been mildly suicidal.
Paterson conceded 31 runs in his first two overs and by then the foreigners had him bleeding like an ailing parastatal.
SA had plenty to do.
The last time these sides converged on the Wanderers rain played favourably into the Proteas’ hands.
It certainly helped them avert what was shaping to be an ODI series whitewash.
Facing a daunting task, the Proteas were perhaps in need of heavenly intervention.
Reeza Hendricks (70‚ off 50 balls) and Farhaan Behardien (39‚ 27 balls) provided a flicker of hope but without a heavy hitter they had no chance.
Just as they did in the ODI series they lost 5-1 to India‚ SA’s top order crumbled and their fielding was horrendous as they dropped three catches.
Behardien showed guts for his knock‚ but his fielding disappointed as he dropped Suresh Raina and Kohli.
Titans team-mate Tabraiz Shamsi put down Pandey.
SA were without AB de Villiers, who was ruled out of the series after suffering a blow to his left knee ahead of the sixth one-day international in Centurion on Friday.
Team manager and doctor Mohammed Moosajee said that though De Villiers was passed fit, the injury worsened during the match.
India also suffered an injury blow, with left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav missing because of a thumb problem.
The next T20 is at Centurion on Wednesday and the third takes place at Newlands on Saturday.