India crush South Africa in low-scoring 1st T20I by 8 wickets

KL Rahul (left) and Suryakumar Yadav’s fifties powered India’s successful chase

It was a perfect outing for the Men in Blue in their first T20I against South Africa played at the Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday night, as they crushed the visitors by a huge margin on 8 wickets in a low-scoring series opener for the three-match affair. 

India’s bowlers, led by the young left-arm seamer Arshdeep Singh, ran riot in the South African ranks to leave them reeling at 9-5 inside the first 3 overs, thus taking the full control of the game in the initial exchanges after their captain Rohit Sharma won the toss and invited the opposition to bat first. 

After restricting South Africa to a low score of 106/8 in 20 overs, India recovered from a slow and shaky start — losing Rohit Sharma (0) and Virat Kohli (3) early on — to finish the game with a little over 3 overs to spare with opener KL Rahul (51*) and Suryakumar Yadav (50*) doing the job with an unbeaten 93-run stand from 63 balls for the third wicket. 

The architects of India’s big win were, however, their fast bowlers who were absolutely brilliant on a green-top pitch at the Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram. 

The left-arm fast bowler Arshdeep Singh, who returned with 4-0-32-3, sparked a collapse in the South African top order when he dismissed Quinton De Kock (1) and Rilee Rossouw (0) and David Miller (0) in the second over of the contest, after Deepak Chahar, who took 2/24, had provided the first breakthrough dismissing the South African captain Temba Bavuma in the opening over of the match.

South Africa were reduced to 8/4 in the second over and the matters became even worse for the visitors when Tristian Stubbs was dismissed for another duck by Deepak Chahar in the third over.

Aiden Markram looked to revive the South African innings with some positive intent in the middle and added a crucial partnership with senior player Wayne Parnell to stop the flow of tickets. 

However, in the final ball of the eighth over, the right-handed South African batsman Aiden Markram was dismissed by Harshal Patel (4-0-26-2) for a fine 24-ball 25, studded with 3 boundaries and a six.

While Wayne Parnell (24 from 37 balls) continued to resist, he found a stable partner in Keshav Maharaj who produced a crucial knock to take a South African innings past the 100-run mark. 

Keshav Maharaj top scored for South Africa with 41 from 35 balls with the help of 5 boundaries and 2 sixes as the visitors finished at 106/8 in their quota of 20 overs.

The total was never going to be enough for South Africa but their bowlers did apply a lot of pressure on the Indian batsmen in the initial exchanges. 

Indian captain Rohit Sharma was caught behind on a beautiful out-swinger from Kagiso Rabada to be dismissed for a second-ball duck, while Anrich Nortje had Virat Kohli caught behind when he chased a delivery wide outside the off stump.

India, who were in a spot of bother at 17/2 after 6.1 overs, came back strong after Suryakumar Yadav broke the shackles with some breathtaking strokeplay that had turned the tables.

The world No 2 T20I batsman Suryakumar Yadav notched up yet another quality half-century, scoring 50 not out from 33 balls with 3 sixes and 5 boundaries. On the other end, KL Rahul, who was evidently uncomfortable at the crease in the start of the chase, finished strongly at 51 not out from 56 balls with 4 sixes and 3 boundaries. 

The two teams will now meet in the second T20I on Sunday at Guwahati, post which they will travel to Indore for the third and final T20I on October 4.