The Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram pitch for India vs South Africa 1st T20I turned out to be a welcome change from the slam-bang version of T20 cricket as bowlers from both sides gave a hard time to the batters on Wednesday. After Indian seamers Deepak Chahar and Arshdeep Singh ran through the South African top-order and restricted them to 106 for 8, South Africa pacers Wayne Parnell and Kagiso Rabada came roaring back to make life difficult for the Indian top order.
After KL Rahul survived a couple of close LBW shouts, Kagiso Rabada got India captain Rohit Sharma out for a duck with a peach of a delivery that pitched on off and moved away.
Rabada and Parnell did not manage to make further inroads but they gave nothing away to Virat Kohli and Rahul. India scored only 17 runs in the powerplay, their lowest score ever in the first six overs in T20Is.
Rabada gave just 6 runs in three overs while Parnell conceded only 11 in his first three.
With Jasprit Bumrah pulling out of the game due to his recurrent back problem which has resurfaced once again, it gave left-armer Arshdeep (3/32 in 4 overs) and Chahar (2/24 in 4 overs) chance to appreciably move the ball both ways, making full use of the nip in the air and the bounce off the surface.
South Africa were rocked in a space of 15 deliveries and before they knew what hit them, the Proteas were reeling at 9 for 5 on a pitch that had a fair covering of grass and certainly some underlying moisture.
Temba Bavuma (0) was nicely set up by Chahar with stock outswingers, which the skipper left alone before a banana inswinger had him bowled through the gate. The deviation into the batter was as big as it could be.
Arshdeep started by taking the ball shade away from the left-hander and Quinton de Kock (1) in his bid to get a move-on dragged one back onto the stumps.
The other left-hander Rilee Rossouw (0) also chased a wide outswinger (inswinger by the bowler) to nick one to Rishabh Pant behind the stumps.
But it was the delivery by Arshdeep to David Miller (0) that will be remembered for a long time to come.
Miller was anticipating an outswinger and had committed on the front-foot only to find that the bowler had got one to bend back into him. His atrocious across-the-line shot would have resulted in only one thing and that was getting castled.
New T20 sensation Tristan Stubbs (0) didn’t get enough wood to his slash over deep to a delivery from Chahar that bounced a shade more. The result was Arshdeep taking a well-judged catch diving in-front.With five wickets gone, there was no coming back for South Africa and predictably there wasn’t any change in the script.
Aiden Markram (25 off 24 balls), Wayne Parnell (24 off 37 balls) and Keshav Maharaj (41 off 35 balls) did try their bit in resurrecting the innings but the damage done during the first three overs of Powerplay did affect the approach of the visitors severely.The bowlers like Ravichandran Ashwin (0/8 in 4 overs), Axar Patel (1/16 in 4 overs) and the normally profligate Harshal Patel (2/26 in 4 overs) had no problems in continuing to choke the run-flow.