After having restricted the Proteas to 106/8 from 20 overs soon after winning the toss, unbeaten half-centuries from opener KL Rahul (51*) and Suryakumar Yadav (50*) propelled the Men in Blue to victory after early hiccups in the chase.
Rohit Sharma-led India clinched an eight-wicket win over visitors South Africa in the first T20I at Thiruvananthapuram’s Greenfield Stadium on Wednesday.
After having restricted the Proteas to 106/8 from 20 overs after winning the toss, unbeaten half-centuries from opener KL Rahul (51*) and Suryakumar Yadav (50*) propelled the Men in Blue to victory after early hiccups in the chase.
Earlier, the Proteas were restricted to 9/5 in the third over, after Arshdeep Singh had scalped three wickets to rattle the top and middle-order – removing Quinton de Kock, Rilee Rossouw, and David Miller in a single over.
Keshav Maharaj’s 41, though, took the Proteas to 106/8, a target India would go on to chase down inside 17 overs but clearly not without a few roadblocks.
India lost skipper Rohit Sharma (0) early and Virat Kohli (3) on the first ball after the powerplay, but an unbeaten 93-run stand between Rahul and SKY ensured India cross the finish line and take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Let’s take a look at five talking points from the contest:
Scratchy KL Rahul
On paper, India might have had it easy against the Proteas, winning the first T20I by eight wickets, but the start to India’s chase of 107 was slow, even having lost a couple of wickets.
India opened with the regular opening pair of skipper Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, but Rohit was dismissed for a duck in the third over, with India’s score reading 9/1 from 2.2 overs. India were restricted to 17/1 inside the powerplay overs, and Virat Kohli came in at three following Rohit’s dismissal, but hardly made an impact with the bat. Anrich Nortje struck on the first ball after the powerplay to remove the former skipper.
— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) September 28, 2022
KL Rahul, however, endured a slow start to his innings, lacking in counter-attack and seemingly being more interested in just playing out deliveries.
Just before the drinks break, Nortje dropped Rahul in his follow-through with Rahul on 15. In fact, Rahul looked seemingly out of sorts at just 14 runs off 31 deliveries.
However, at the stroke of the 10th over, Rahul hit Nortje for a six over long-on. He reached to 21 off 37 deliveries at the time, and then he hardly looked out of touch.
Later on, Rahul made use of the lost opportunity with three more sixes during his innings.
In the fourth ball of the 17th, when India finally won the match, Rahul went for the slog-sweep, clearing backward square leg, to get to his fifty inside 56 balls. His knock consisted of two 4s and four 6s.
Dominating Suryakumar Yadav
After a shaky start to the chase, Suryakumar Yadav came in as the No 4 batter for India in the seventh over, following Virat Kohli’s dismissal. India were restricted to 17/2 in 6.1 overs, and while the duo of Suryakumar and Rahul forged an unbeaten 93 runs off 63 balls for the third wicket, SKY looked the more aggressive of the two, getting to his fifty in just 33 balls. He took five fours and three sixes to get to the milestone.
Surya continues to shine bright as he breaks the record of most T20I sixes in a year 💥💙
— Mumbai Indians (@mipaltan) September 28, 2022
In the first ball he faced, SKY was hit on the body off Nortje’s 143 kmph delivery. However, Suryakumar responded strongly with a couple of sixes, courtesy of the flick shot, to collect a dozen off his next two deliveries.
Suryakumar continued punishing the South African bowlers with boundaries, and a major highlight of SKY’s innings was hitting Kagiso Rabada for consecutive fours in the 16th over, which in fact took the Men in Blue closer to victory.
That was the last of SKY’s boundaries for the night, but his innings was a visual treat for the Indian fans and team members alike.
Sharp Arshdeep Singh
Ever since the 23-year-old Arshdeep Singh came into the international cricket limelight in July this year, he has sprung a few surprises on more than one occasion for his team.
Wednesday was no different. At the end of the first over of the innings, the Proteas were 1/1, with Temba Bavuma being dismissed for a duck.
The dominance of Arshdeep Singh and Deepak Chahar in the first 15 balls. pic.twitter.com/tAMXzueynT
— Mufaddal Vohra (@mufaddal_vohra) September 28, 2022
Arshdeep was introduced into the attack in the second over of the Proteas’ innings, and he certainly delivered for his team in his very first over.
Arshdeep’s first victim was Quinton de Kock, who was dismissed in the second ball of the over. De Kock was looking to smash on the off-side, but misread Arshdeep’s length delivery to get a thick inside edge, only for the ball to chop on onto the stumps.
Arshdeep struck again in the fifth ball of the over, seeing off Rilee Rossouw who got a thin edge en route to the keeper Rishabh Pant.
David Miller faced Arshdeep in the final ball of the second over of the innings, and he was undone by Arshdeep’s inswinger, eventually being clean bowled.
Arshdeep went on to finish his four overs with figures of 3/32.
Fighting Keshav Maharaj
South Africa were in all sorts of trouble after being restricted to 42/6 from 8 overs, following the dismissal of Aiden Markram.
In came Keshav Maharaj, who would go on to score a timely 41 off 35 balls to avoid an embarrassing collapse for his team.
Maharaj was involved in a 26-run stand with Wayne Parnell for the seventh wicket, but his more productive stand was a 33-run partnership with Kagiso Rabada for the eighth wicket.
However, in the first ball of the 20th, Maharaj was cleaned up by Harshal Patel, after amassing five fours and two sixes.
He may have missed out on a fifty, but had it not been for Maharaj’s valiant knock, the Proteas may have been bundled out for an even lower total.
Fiery Kagiso Rabada
With figures of 1/16 from four overs, Kagiso Rabada ended up as Proteas’ second most economical bowler in the match, with an economy of just four. Wayne Parnell had an economy of 3.50, but he ended his spell wicketless, finishing with figures of 0/14.
Rabada struck in the third over of the Indian run-chase, getting rid of skipper Rohit Sharma for a duck. It was a full-length ball outside off-stump. The ball was angling into the stump, and Rohit got forward to defend it, but ended up getting an edge to the keeper Quinton de Kock.
Rabada’s most expensive over was his final one when he went for 10 runs, including two consecutive fours from Suryakumar Yadav. And after Rabada’s spell was complete, it was only a matter of time before India crossed the finish line.
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