Rohit Sharma asserted that the green pitch in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday did not guarantee success for the team but the bowlers’ quality in the early overs ensured they were in the driver's seat. He went on to discuss the run chase and the batters’ approach in the difficult conditions.
India hardly broke a sweat in the first T20I against South Africa in Thiruvananthapuram, on Wednesday, as they kicked off the three-match series with a comfortable eight-wicket victory. The win was largely set up in the first innings itself after the Men in Blue had won the toss and decided to bowl, utilizing the grassy wicket and humid conditions to restrict the Proteas to a paltry 106.
"When you play a game like that you learn a lot. It was nice to play a game like that," Indian skipper Rohit Sharma was quoted saying in the post-match presentation by ESPN Cricinfo.
The collapse for the visitors was orchestrated by Deepak Chahar and Arshdeep Singh’s wild swinging antics with the new ball. After the former got rid of Temba Bavuma in the first over, Singh followed up the act with three scalps of his own and by the midpoint of the third over, South Africa were left reeling at 9-5. Aiden Markram then tried to take charge with a counter-attacking 25 but it was ultimately Wayne Parnell’s 24(37) and a brilliant 41 off 35 balls from Keshav Maharaj that helped the Proteas cross the 100-run barrier.
“We knew there will be something for the bowlers, but not through the 20 overs we bowled. It was sticky, there was still dampness, and it stayed throughout. There was no sun so it makes it difficult to hit,” Sharma said of the conditions.
“Both teams were in the contest. We got wickets upfront, and that was the turning point. No matter what the conditions, you still have to execute your plans. When you swing the ball like that any batter will struggle,” he added.
However, the initial stages of the run chase weren’t smooth sailing for the hosts, as Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli departed early with the score 17-2 after 6.1 overs. Nevertheless, Suryakumar Yadav’s typical flamboyant style saw him reassert Indian dominance with a rapid half-century while KL Rahul anchored the innings on the other end. The opener eventually struck a six off the last ball of the encounter to reach the 50-run mark himself and secure victory with 14 balls to spare.
“107, we knew it was not going to be that easy. We got to respect the conditions at times, understand what shots can be played. We lost two wickets, but that partnership was crucial,” Rohit concluded.