Indian batsman K L Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav during the 1st T20 cricket match between India and South Africa, at Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday, September 28, 2022.
Indian batsman K L Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav during the 1st T20 cricket match between India and South Africa, at Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday, September 28, 2022.Raj Kumar/IANS

IND v SA, 1st T20I: Rahul, Suryakumar slam fifties to give India eight-wicket win over South Africa

Thiruvananthapuram, September 28, 2022

Vice-captain K. L. Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav slammed unbeaten fifties to give India an eight-wicket win over South Africa in the T20I series opener at the Greenfield International Stadium on Wednesday.

On a pitch which was made for fast bowlers to make merry, as seen from the five-wicket burst provided by Arshdeep Singh and Deepak Chahar earlier in the match, South Africa bowlers, too, were able to take out Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli early.

With the required run rate not much high, Rahul hung in and with Yadav in stellar touch, they put on an unbeaten stand of 93 off 63 balls to chase down 107 with 18 balls remaining, giving India a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

The hosts' were dealt an early blow when a peach from Kagiso Rabada in the second over lured Sharma into playing at it and the thick edge went behind to Quinton de Kock, who dived to his right to send the Indian skipper back for a two-ball duck.

Post power-play, where India made only 17/1, their lowest score in the six-over phase, Kohli tried to cut a short and wide ball from Anrich Nortje, only for the extra bounce to take the edge behind to de Kock. After hopping and fending on his first ball, Yadav slammed back-to-back sixes - a top-edge on pull went over third man and a nonchalant flick went over backward square leg.

Rahul, who was kept quiet by a slew of outswingers and inswingers apart from surviving close lbw shouts off Parnell and Rabada, opened up by flicking off his wrists over long-on for six off Nortje, followed by Yadav slapping through point for four off Keshav Maharaj.

Rahul then pulled Tabraiz Shamsi over backward square leg for six and Yadav ended the over by flicking hard off his wrists through deep mid-wicket for four. Yadav enthralled the crowd with his trademark shot when he lofted inside-out with the turn over wide long-off off Maharaj.

A pacy full toss from Nortje was lofted over cover by Rahul for six while Suryakumar placed a slower ball through point for four as India started to coast towards victory.

Suryakumar continued to collect fours with ease against Rabada and reached his second consecutive fifty in 33 balls in the next over. On the very next ball, Rahul slog-swept Shamsi over backward square leg to reach his fifty in 56 balls and complete the chase in style.

Earlier, Arshdeep and Chahar made merry on a green pitch with deadly swing bowling to reduce South Africa to 9/5 in 2.3 overs, before Keshav Maharaj played a fighting knock of 41 to take South Africa to a below-par 106/8.

Arshdeep (3/32) and Chahar (2/24) justified Sharma's call to field first as they scythed through South Africa's top order in picking five wickets on the first 15 balls of the innings. With movement in the air for the left-right pace bowling duo, South Africa batters were unable to move their feet well and fell like a deck of cards, with their scores resembling a binary code.

It took Maharaj's efforts with the bat, apart from 25 by Aiden Markram and 24 by Wayne Parnell, for the visitors to get past 100.

Chahar began the carnage when he castled Temba Bavuma with an inswinger after bowling a couple of outswingers. In the next over, Arshdeep got one to swing a length ball away from Quinton de Kock, who just chopped on to his stumps.

Arshdeep then enticed Rilee Rossouw to drive at a full and swinging away delivery, giving a thick outer edge behind to wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant and fall for a golden duck. On the very next ball, Arshdeep got a fuller ball to come back in and shatter David Miller's stumps by hitting the top of middle stump.

Returning in the third over, Chahar made it three ducks in five balls for South Africa as Tristan Stubbs tried to cut a short and wide ball over point, but gave a simple catch to a diving Arshdeep at third man.

Amidst the decimation by Arshdeep and Chahar, Markram was leaning into drives through off-side, flicking and pulling over deep mid-wicket for a four and six, respectively. His promising knock was cut short by Harshal Patel, with the pacer trapping him lbw in front of middle stump while shuffling across and shaping for a flick.

Parnell and Maharaj hit some boundaries in their 26-run stand for the seventh wicket, before the former holed out to long-off to become Axar Patel's first scalp of the match. Maharaj showed his cheekiness with the bat, reverse scooping Arshdeep for four and going even better with a slash over third man for six on the next ball.

He then hit his third boundary of the over with a well-timed drive wide of mid-off and helped South Africa reach the 100-run mark, before being cleaned up by a slower ball from Harshal in the final over.

Brief Scores: South Africa 106/8 in 20 overs (Keshav Maharaj 41, Aiden Markram 25; Arshdeep Singh 3/32, Deepak Chahar 2/24) lost to India 110/2 in 16.4 overs (KL Rahul 51 not out, Suryakumar Yadav 50 not out; Kagiso Rabada 1/16, Anrich Nortje 1/32) by eight wickets

IANS

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