India captain Rohit Sharma is pleased his team has “learned a lot” in their eight-wicket win over South Africa in a low-scoring chase on a “difficult course” in the first T20 International. Suryakumar Yadav’s unbeaten 50 from 33 balls kept India from getting too much hitch despite KL Rahul’s struggle at a track where South Africa faltered at 9/5 at the start of the match. “The wicket was tricky. You learn a lot playing a game like that. You understand what the team has to do in difficult circumstances. It was fun to play a game like that. We knew the bowlers would get something if they got grass on the pitch, but we didn’t expect any help for the full 20 overs,” Rohit said at the post-game presentation ceremony.
Rohit admitted that the pitch was a little damp and that kept South Africa in the game despite a paltry score of 106/8.
“It was still damp. Both teams were in the game and the team that played better won the game. We started well, got five wickets in a quick time and that was the turning point. It was a perfect demonstration of how to bowl when there is help for the pacers.”
While Rahul scored half a century (51) on 56 balls, Rohit said the terms had to be respected.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We had to respect the conditions. We lost two wickets and that collaboration between KL and Surya brought us home.”
Surya’s offensive percussion helped me take my time: KL Rahul
KL Rahul, whose strident percussion was smoothed out by Suryakumar Yadav’s regal half-century, said his partner’s attacking intent allowed him to take his own time.
It was because of Rahul’s struggles, India only scored 17 in six Powerplay overs, but Surya’s imperious form didn’t allow South Africa to make a comeback.
“Definitely, up there (as the heaviest throw),” Rahul said when asked if it was the heaviest strip he’s hit in T20Is.
“We’ve played in some difficult conditions like this, but I didn’t get any runs. So this was hard work.”
He was full of praise for Surya’s approach.
“It was incredible for Surya to come out and play those shots. We watched the balls fly, bite around, at two speeds and anything that can be difficult for a batter who was the wicket today.
“And for Surya to come up with that approach after the first ball hit him, he just woke up and wanted to play his shots, be aggressive and take over the bowling. That helped me take my time and play one side.” Rahul said he expected the track to do a bit, but not to that extent.
“Not so much. We practiced here yesterday and that was a humbling experience too, we all came in mentally prepared because it wasn’t going to be an easy wicket and I was ready to do the dirty work, ready to be challenged and get the job done to clear up for the team.”
Rahul also praised the young Arshdeep Singh, who took three wickets in his first overdraft of the game.
“He (Arshdeep) is growing with every game and getting better with every outing, he’s a big hearted person and I’ve seen him up close playing in the IPL. This season he has been phenomenal for his franchise and to be the number to be one death bowler in a team (Punjab Kings) that Rabada praises.
“We always want a seam on the left arm and it’s great to have someone like Arshdeep.”