IND vs SA 2022-23, 1st T20I: Rahul-Suryakumar hand India opening lead in low-scoring entertainer
India defeated South Africa by eight wickets in the opening Thiruvananthapuram T20I on Wednesday. As the hosts have drawn first blood in the three-game series, KL Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav, along with the bowlers, shone.
It was a composed performance by Team India in the opening Twenty20 International against South Africa at the Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday. While the hosts lead the three-match series 1-0 with this eight-wicket win, it will be proud of its batters, as wicketkeeper-opener KL Rahul and middle-order batter Suryakumar Yadav lived to their expectations and delivered. However, it was the Indian bowling that created headlines, rattling half of the visiting South African side on a green track that saw the ball moving erratically, much to the dismay and horror of the Proteas. As a result, social media expressed its joy for the Men in Blue.
Winning the toss, Indian skipper Rohit Sharma opted to field. At the same time, he rested pacer Jasprit Bumrah and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal to bring in young wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant and veteran all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin. The decision to field was perfect as the pacers, especially Deepak Chahar and Arshdeep Singh, proved to be a nightmare for the South Africans.
Half of the visitors' side was dismissed by the third over of the Powerplay with just nine runs scored, its lowest PP total in the format. However, Aiden Markram (25) and Wayne Parnell (24) added 33 runs for the sixth wicket to start the recovery innings for the Proteas. In the eighth, the former was trapped leg-before by pacer Harshal Patel, while the latter fell to leg-spinner Axar Patel in the 16th, at 68/7.
Another 33-run partnership ensued, this time between Keshav Maharaj (41) and Kagiso Rabada (7*), before the former was knocked over by Harshal in the final over, as South Africa finished on a below-par total of 106/8. For India, Arshdeep grabbed three, while off-spinner Ashwin was economical.
In reply, India was down to 17/2 by the seventh over. It had lost opener Rohit (0) to pacer Rabada in the third over of the PP, at nine. It finished the PP with 17 runs on the board, its lowest in the phase to date. Nevertheless, Rahul (51*) and Yadav (50*) got the job done by putting on the unbeaten winning stand of 93, with both scoring their 31st and 16th T20I half-centuries, respectively.
While the Men in Blue got it all done by the 17th over, thanks to the pitch getting better, the toss turned out to be a good one to win. As for the Protea bowlers, pacer Parnell was the most economical for his side.
Brief scores: SA 106/8 (Maharaj- 41; Arshdeep- 3/32) lost to IND 110/2 in 16.4 overs (Rahul- 51*, Yadav- 50*; Rabada- 1/16) by eight wickets.