India vs South Africa: KL Rahul scored at less than run-a-ball in the first T20I against South Africa, but Aakash Chopra was quick to praise the opener for a “top quality” knock on a tricky pitch.
India on Wednesday had to tackle difficult conditions to chase down 107 to win the first T20I against South Africa, taking a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. On a tricky pitch in Thiruvananthapuram that saw plenty of assistance for the seamers, especially with the new ball swinging dangerously, Arshdeep Singh and Deepak Chahar led India’s charge as South Africa were restricted to 106/8. KL Rahul then laid down anchor as India chased down the target to register an 8-wicket win.
However, the India opener came under the scanner for his low strike rate. Rahul, for the record, made 51 off 56 deliveries, bringing up his half-century with the match-winning six.
Former India opener Aakash Chopra, however, was quick to rush to Rahul’s defence.
“The criticism of KL Rahul’s batting approach last night was seriously misplaced…there’s a reason why the opponents scored only 106 in 20 overs and your team was 2 down for not much,” Chopra tweeted.
The criticism of KL Rahul’s batting approach last night was seriously misplaced…there’s a reason why the opponents scored only 106 in 20 overs and your team was 2 down for not much. It was a top quality knock by KLR, for he chose to fight it out. Well played #IndvSA
— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) September 29, 2022
“It was a top quality knock by KLR, for he chose to fight it out. Well played,” he added.
While Rahul played the anchor’s role, Suryakumar Yadav came in after the wickets of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli and went on to put the pressure back on South Africa’s bowlers, smashing an unbeaten 50 off 33 deliveries.
That South Africa scored 106/8 was a remarkable feat in itself after they found themselves at 9/5 after 2.3 overs as Arshdeep and Chahar ran riot with the new ball.
Arshdeep finished with three wickets while Chahar took two.
But knocks from Aiden Markram (25), Wayne Parnell (24) and Keshav Maharaj (41) helped the visitors recover from the early collapse and put a respectable total on the board.
South Africa also started well with the ball as Kagiso Rabada snared India captain Rohit Sharma for a duck before Anrich Nortje sent Virat Kohli packing for 3.
However, Rahul and Suryakumar hit half-centuries to take India home in 16.4 overs.