Southampton, June 6: The Rohit Sharma hundred will be discussed and disected for long hours because it was so atypical a Rohit Sharma innings. Rightly so too! But before Rohit took over the reins, Yuzvendra Chahal kept India in front of South Africa with a four-wicket haul, the second best for India after Mohammed Shami's four-wicket burst in the ICC World Cup 2015.
Chahal made his presence felt in his second over, 20th of the SA innings, dismissing a settled looking Rassie van der Dussen, though aided copiously by the batsman's atrocious effort to play a reverse sweep. But five balls later Chahal came up with a piece of beauty to castle Faf du Plessis.
Chahal created doubts in the minds of Faf with a googly in the fifth ball of the over. He stayed on the backfoot and the ball came in nearly breached his defence. And the South African captain was commited to play the next ball off the front foot, but the slider zipped off the pitch, grazed his pads, went through the defence and pegged the off-stump back. A bowler outthinking a batsman could not have been more obvious than that.
The two wickets shaved off the little momentum that Faf and Van der Dussen were building after the early dismissal of Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock. From 78/2, South Africa slipped to 80 for 4. But throughout the middle overs, Chahal and his wrist spin partner Kuldeep Yadav ensured that South Africa never broke the shackles. The vice-like grip of two spinners in the middle overs was a massive contributing factor in India's six-wicket win.
While South Africa lost five wickets to the two Indian spinners while collecting 97 runs from 20 overs, the Proteas counterparts failed to collect any wicket and conceded 112 runs in 19 overs. Imran Tahir and Tabrez Shamsi failed to make impression on Rohit, KL Rahul and MS Dhoni in the middle passage.
What happened when @imkuldeep18 turned presenter on Chahal TV 📺— BCCI (@BCCI) June 6, 2019
The duo speak about #TeamIndia's dominant performance in their #CWC19 opener against South Africa - by @RajalArora @yuzi_chahal
Full Video ▶️▶️https://t.co/GzHq6OmXt8 pic.twitter.com/KnOsVgQTnc
After Kuldeep ousted Jean Paul Duminy, South Africa made a mini recovery through David Miller and Andile Phehlukwayo but Chahal returned to snap their 46-run alliance for the sixth wicket. Chahal made the ball dip in front of Miller and the left-hander failed to keep his drive on the ground, offering a simple return catch. Phehlukwayo became Chahal's 4th wicket when he charged down the track only to get stumped by MS Dhoni. Once again the batsman got beaten by the leg-break that dipped in front of him.
Other than those two sixes Chris Morris hit off him, Chahal contained runs and took wickets. When Chahal operated along with Kuldeep it was sheer magic and they put revolutions on the ball as it spun, drifted and dipped. South African batsmen never really in control and did not seem to have the skill set to handle such high quality wrist spin.
As of now, the curators in England have been kind enough to leave semblance of grass on the pitch and the 10.30 am start too might have helped the bowlers' cause a bit, making the matches somewhat even. But it may not remain this balanced throughout and India will require their spinners to produce similar control in those situations too. And Chahal has opened the way in Southampton.