India captain Rohit Sharma is happy that his team got to “learn a lot” in its eight-wicket victory over South Africa in a low-scoring chase on a “tricky track” in the first T20 International in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.
Suryakumar Yadav’s unbeaten 50 off 33 balls ensured India got home without much ado despite KL Rahul’s struggles on a track where South Africa was left reeling at 9 for five at the start of the game.
“The wicket was tricky. You learn a lot playing such a game. You understand what the team needs to do in tough conditions. It was nice to play a game like that. We knew the bowlers would get something because of the grass on the pitch, but we didn’t expect help for the full 20 overs,” Rohit said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
“It was still damp. Both teams were in the contest, and the team that played better won the game. We started well, got five wickets in quick time, and that was the turning point. It was a perfect showcase of how to bowl when there is help for the pacers.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Got to respect the conditions. Lost two wickets, and that partnership between KL and Surya got us home.”
Rahul, whose scratchy batting got papered over by Suryakumar’s regal half-century, said his partner’s attacking intent allowed him to take his time. “Definitely, right up there (as the toughest pitch),” Rahul said when asked if it was the toughest strip he has batted on in T20Is.
“We have played in some difficult conditions like this, but I haven’t got runs. So this was hard work.” He was all praise for Suryakumar’s approach.
“It was unbelievable for Surya to come out and play those shots. We have seen how balls were flying, nipping around, two-paced and everything that can be hard for a batter.
“And for Surya to come with that approach... after the first ball that hit him, he just woke up and wanted to play his shots, be aggressive and take on the bowling. That helped me take my time and play one end.”
Rahul also praised young Arshdeep Singh, whose three wickets in his first over set up the game. “He’s (Arshdeep) growing with each game. I have seen him from close quarters while playing in the IPL. This season what he did for his franchise was phenomenal and to be the number one death bowler in a team (Punjab Kings) which has Rabada speaks highly of him.
“We always want a left-arm seamer, and it is great to have someone like Arshdeep.”