Virat Kohli and his men kicked off their World Cup with a six-wicket win over the Proteas having earlier restricted them to just 227-9 in their 50 overs.
It was Yuzvendra Chahal’s leg-spin which did the trick for India at Southampton with the 28-year-old wreaking havoc with four crucial wickets. The wrist-spinner had picked up 16 wickets in six matches when India thumped South Africa by 5-1 in an ODI series last year and he was in similar punishing mood at Southampton on Tuesday as he spun a web around the Proteas batsmen.
Here, we take a closer look at his excellent bowling display.
Runs conceded: 51
South Africa looked like they were back on track after the early loss of the openers with Rassie van der Dussen and Faf du Plessis forging a promising partnership. However, the introduction of Chahal into the bowling attack changed all that with the leg-spinner making an instant impact.
In just his second over, Chahal castled the stumps of both the set batsmen with subtle use of his variations. Coming back for a second spell, the leggie struck immediately by deceiving David Miller before he put India firmly on top by having Andile Phehlawukyo stumped by MS Dhoni.
Chahal was right on the money and barely took any time to settle down and find the right length and pace for the pitch. He had tormented the Proteas in the ODI series in South Africa last year and that is exactly what he did again at Southampton.
Chahal has always displayed remarkable game intelligence while bowling and he was one step ahead of South Africa’s batsmen on Wednesday. When Van der Dussen and Phehlukwayo signalled their intentions to attack him early, the leg-spinner adjusted his lengths at the last second to have the two batsmen bowled and stumped respectively.
Meanwhile, his variations were spot on as well with Faf du Plessis beaten all ends up by the perfect googly while David Miller was deceived by the flight.
Chahal barely bowled any bad deliveries in the first eight overs of his spell but he was guilty of being a little loose towards the end of his spell. He bowled a few half-trackers in his final two overs and was duly punished for two huge sixes by South Africa all-rounder Chris Morris.
Other than that, it was a near perfect bowling display from the leg-spinner.
VERDICT – 8.5/10
It was Chahal who was majorly responsible for South Africa’s sub-par batting effort on the day. The ability of India’s wrist spinners to pick wickets in the middle overs has been instrumental in several wins over the past two years and Wednesday was another perfect example of it.
With both Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav in wicket-taking form, India will fancy their chances of going all the way.
Know more about Sport360 Application