Cricket has returned to God’s own country after a long wait of 1085 days. The match was held at the picturesque Greenfield Stadium at Thiruvananthapuram.
Playing in front of a 55,000 packed stadium, the Indian Skipper Rohit Sharma won the toss and elected to field with the expectation of late evening dew.
The visiting team was in trouble from the word go. Prodigious swing was visible from the first ball itself. And the Indian seamers, Deepak Chahar and Arshdeep Singh exploited the conditions. Soon, the Proteas were folded to 9-5 in the third over. Only Aiden Markram showed some resistance. Wickets fell at regular intervals. Indian spinners also bowled tightly in the middle overs and finally the South African innings scrolled to 106-8 with some useful contributions at the lower order and Keshav Maharaj, was the top scorer with 41(35).
Indian seamers shared 7 wickets among them.
In reply, India too had a shaky start losing Skipper Rohit Sharma without scoring. The opening burst of the South African duo KG Rabbada & Wayne Parnell exploited the conditions dexterously. Virat Kohli also went without troubling the Proteas much. India scored their lowest power play score of 17/1 in their T20 International history.
After the early hiccup, KL Rahul and Surya Kumar Yadav steadied the Indian batting ship. Continuing his red hot form the last series, Surya played in his merry way and scored 50(33) studded with 3 sixes and 5 fours and KL Rahul scored a classy 51(56). India coasted to an 8 wicket victory with 20 balls to spare.
Arshdeep Singh won the Man of the Match for his splendid exhibition of swing bowling in ripping apart the South African top order with a 3 wicket spell.
Now, for the next match the teams will travel from the far south to the northeast city of Guwahati for the crucial encounter on Sunday. Hopefully, India’s pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah’s back niggle is not much of a concern. Of course, the weather will play a big role in the next T20 at Guwahati and us avid cricket fans will pray for a match without rain…
PS: Attn: Saurav Ganguly & Jay Shah… Judging by what happened at Nagpur, we hope Baraspara stadium will be equipped with enough hair driers and iron boxes…