After an easy eight-wicket win over South Africa in the T20I series opener at the Greenfield International Stadium, India captain Rohit Sharma was in praise of the efforts by his new-ball bowlers Arshdeep Singh and Deepak Chahar, saying that the duo taking out five South African wickets inside first three overs was the "turning point" of the match.
On a two-paced pitch with green tinge as international cricket returned to the venue after three years, Arshdeep (3/32) and Chahar (2/24) justified Rohit Sharma's call to bowl first as they scythed through South Africa's top-order by picking five wickets on the first 15 balls of the innings to restrict the visitors to 106/8 in 20 overs.
The duo, who did not play in the recent home series against Australia and replaced a rested Bhuvneshwar Kumar as well as Jasprit Bumrah - out due to a back niggle, were sensational in their T20I comebacks to set the base for India taking 1-0 lead in three three-match series, with K.L Rahul (51 not out) and Suryakumar Yadav (50 not out) sharing an unbeaten stand of 93 runs to successfully chase down 107.
"We started well, got five wickets in quick time and that was the turning point. Perfect showcase of how to bowl when there is help for the pacers (talking about Deepak Chahar and Arshdeep). When you swing the ball like that any batter will struggle."
"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 (between Rahul and Surya) was crucial," said Rohit after the match ended.
Rohit remarked that playing matches like this, where the conditions are more bowler-friendly, gives a lot of learnings to a side and expressed surprise over bowlers getting help from the pitch for whole duration of the match.
"The wicket was tricky. You learn a lot playing such a game. You understand what the team needs to do in tough conditions. It was nice to play a game like that."
"We knew the bowlers will get something seeing grass on the pitch, but we didn't expected help for the full 20 overs. It was still damp. There was no sun so it makes it difficult to hit. Both teams were in the contest and the team that played better won the game."
South Africa skipper Temba Bavuma was left to rue the lack of application from his batters on a tricky pitch which surprised him, but was happy with the fight shown by lower-order, with Keshav Maharaj making 41 and taking the visitors' past 100, with Aiden Markram and Wayne Parnell chipping in with 25 and 24 respectively.
"As a batting unit we failed to apply ourselves in those conditions. We didn't expect the pitch to play this way. We weren't able to adjust our plans. We saw what Rahul was able to do. We didn't expect that (behaviour of pitch), we practiced here two days ago."
"Yes we expected it to be spicy but normally you will be able to hit through the line in this part of the world. Three seamers on that type of wicket you back yourself. To be defending that type of score, you always hope for a miracle. They tried their best and supported by spinners as well."
"The bating we need to work, and give the bowlers something to defend. Guys like Parni, and Keshav, they showed good fight. I thought we fought well late with the bat. That's a positive. The fight was on, but at the end of the day, there weren't too many runs."