In front of one of the bluest seas of spectators one would ever see, India’s new-ball bowlers came up with a superlative show of swing bowling on a starless Wednesday night.
The cream of the South African batting had no answer to Deepak Chahar and Arshdeep Singh, neither of whom had figured in the recent series against Australia. They broke the back of the formidable Proteas batting and justified their captain Rohit Sharma’s decision to bowl first in the opening T20I at the Greenfield Stadium.
South Africa could make only 106 for eight. Despite a slow start, which saw India registering its lowest PowerPlay score of 17 for one, the host romped home with 3.2 overs to spare, much to the delight of the massive crowd, who would have probably liked to see a few more big hits.
They nevertheless were able to witness some brilliant bowling by India up front, because of which the visitors slid to nine for five inside the third over.
It all began with the last ball of the opening over. After swinging three balls, back-to-back, away from the South African captain Temba Bavuma, Chahar moved one in. The middle stump was knocked off the ground by the ball that sneaked through the gate.
In the next over, Arshdeep incredibly took three wickets. The young left-armer had Quinton de Kock playing away from his body only to get dismissed playing on. That happened on the second ball.
Three balls later, Rilee Rossouw was caught behind, for a golden duck, by Rishabh Pant off one that moved away. Off the next ball the dangerous David Miller, was bowled by one that swung in.
When Aiden Markram (25, 24b), who had been giving a good account of himself on a challenging track against the moving ball, perished lbw to Harshal Patel, South Africa was reduced to 42 for six. Thanks to the useful contributions down the order from Wayne Parnell (24, 37b) and Keshav Maharaj (41, 35b, 5x4, 2x6), South Africa went past the 100 mark. That never was going to be enough, especially against a batting line-up featuring an in-form Suryakumar Yadav.
Suryakumar (50 not out, 33b, 5x4, 3x6) and K.L. Rahul (51 not out, 56b, 2x4, 4x6) added 93 for their unfinished third wicket to frustrate South Africa and both played some dazzling strokes.
India showed four changes from the side that won the series-decider against Australia three days ago. Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, who has complained of back pain, and Yuzvendra Chahal made way for Pant, Arshdeep, Deepak and R. Ashwin.