In order to defeat South Africa in the opening T20I on Wednesday and take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series, India had to battle through challenging circumstances to chase down 107. Arshdeep Singh and Deepak Chahar led India’s attack as South Africa was held to 106/8 on a challenging field in Thiruvananthapuram that saw plenty of assistance for the seamers, especially with the new ball swinging dangerously. Then KL Rahul set the tone as India chased down the score and won by eight wickets.
The India opener, though, was scrutinised because of his low strike rate. For the record, Rahul scored 51 runs off of 56 deliveries, reaching his fifty-first run with the game-winning six. Aakash Chopra, a former opener for India, jumped to Rahul’s defence nevertheless. “The criticism of KL Rahul’s batting approach last night was seriously misplaced…there’s a reason why the opponents scored only 106 in 20 overs and your team was 2 down for not much,” Chopra wrote in a tweet.
“It was a top quality knock by KLR, for he chose to fight it out. Well played,” he added. While Rahul served as the team’s anchor, Suryakumar Yadav entered the game after Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli were eliminated. He then increased the pressure on South Africa’s bowlers by slamming an unbeaten 50 off 33 pitches. It was an impressive performance in and of itself for South Africa to score 106/8 after they were reduced to 9/5 just 2.3 overs due to Arshdeep and Chahar’s rampage with the new ball.
Chahar finished with two wickets, while Arshdeep finished with three. However, the visitors recovered from the early collapse and put a respectable total on the board thanks to strikes from Aiden Markram (25), Wayne Parnell (24), and Keshav Maharaj (41). Rohit Sharma, the captain of India, was caught for a duck by Kagiso Rabada, and Virat Kohli was dismissed for three by Anrich Nortje. However, half-centuries by Rahul and Suryakumar propelled India to victory in 16.4 overs.