THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Vice-captain K.L Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav slammed unbeaten fifties to give India an eight-wicket win over South Africa in the T20I series opener at the Greenfield International Stadium on Wednesday.
On a pitch which was made for fast bowlers to make merry, as seen from the five-wicket burst provided by Arshdeep Singh and Deepak Chahar earlier in the match, South Africa bowlers too were able to take out Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli early.
With the required run rate not much high, Rahul hung in and with Suryakumar in stellar touch, they put on an unbeaten stand of 93 off 63 balls to chase down 107 with 18 balls remaining, giving India 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
The hosts' were dealt an early blow when a peach from Kagiso Rabada in the second over lured Rohit Sharma into playing at it and thick edge went behind to Quinton de Kock, who dived to his right to send the Indian skipper back for a two-ball duck.
Earlier, Arshdeep Singh and Deepak Chahar made merry on a green pitch with deadly swing bowling to reduce South Africa to 9/5 in 2.3 overs, before Keshav Maharaj played a fighting knock of 41 to take South Africa to a below-par 106/8.
Arshdeep (3/32) and Chahar (2/24) justified Rohit Sharma's call to bowl first as they scythed through South Africa's top-order in picking five wickets on the first 15 balls of the innings. With movement in the air for the left-right pace bowling duo, South Africa batters were unable to move their feet well and fell like a deck of cards, with their scores resembling a binary code.
Arshdeep then enticed Rilee Rossouw to drive at a full and swinging away delivery, giving a thick outer edge behind to wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant and fall for a golden duck. On the very next ball, Arshdeep got a fuller ball to come back in and shatter David Miller's stumps by hitting the top of middle stump.
It took Maharaj's efforts with the bat, apart from 25 by Aiden Markram and 24 by Wayne Parnell for the visitors' to get past 100. Chahar began the carnage when he castled Temba Bavuma with an inswinger after bowling a couple of outswingers. In the next over, Arshdeep got one to swing a length ball away from Quinton de Kock, who just chopped on to his stumps.
Brief Scores: South Africa 106/8 in 20 overs (Keshav Maharaj 41, Aiden Markram 25; Arshdeep Singh 3/32, Deepak Chahar 2/24) lost to India 110/2 in 16.4 overs (KL Rahul 51 not out, Suryakumar Yadav 50 not out; Kagiso Rabada 1/16, Anrich Nortje 1/32) by eight wickets. IANS