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Arshdeep, Chahar swing the contest India’s way as it thumps South Africa to take a 1-0 lead

In front of one of the bluest seas of spectators you would ever see, India’s new-ball bowlers came up with a superlative show of swing bowling on a starless Wednesday night.

Arshdeep is the toast of his teammates for his fine effort.  (Source: M. PERIASAMY)

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.

Crowd delighted

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, which would have probably liked to see a few more big hits. They nevertheless were able to witness some brilliant bowling by India up front, as the visitors slid to nine for five inside the third over.

It all began with the last ball of the first over. After swinging three balls, back-to-back, away from the South Africa captain Temba Bavuma, Chahar moved one in. The middle stump was knocked off as the ball sneaked through the gate. In the second ball of the next over, Arshdeep incredibly struck thrice. 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 an inswinger. 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 n.o., 33b, 5x4, 3x6) and K.L. Rahul (51 n.o., 56b, 2x4, 4x6) added 93 for the unfinished third wicket to frustrate South Africa and both played some dazzling strokes.

India made four changes from the side that won the series-decider against Australia three days ago. Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, who complained of back pain, and Yuzvendra Chahal made way for Rishabh Pant, Arshdeep, Deepak and R. Ashwin. If that was a superb over, the following one was even better. Incredibly, Arshdeep took three wickets in it.

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.

A few moments later, the exciting youngster Tristan Stubbs became the third man to collect a golden duck, as he found Arshdeep at third man, off Chahar. Watching all this horror show by the South African batters from the other end was Aiden Markram, who had been giving a good account of himself on a challenging track against the moving ball. But after making 25, Markram perished lbw to Harshal Patel -- after India made good use of a review. South Africa thus was reduced to 42 for six.

Now the question was if the visitors could manage to take the score to triple figures. They did, thanks to the useful contributions down the order from Wayne Parnell (24, 37b) and Keshav Maharaj (41, 35b, 5x4, 2x6).

Earlier, India entered the field, showing four changes from the side that defeated in 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.

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