Making a comeback to the Indian side in the absence of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul led the team to a convincing victory over South Africa in the series opener. Pacers Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan orchestrated a remarkable collapse of the Proteas’ batting lineup at the New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. Arshdeep, who had faced criticism for not taking a wicket in his first three ODI appearances for India, made a strong statement by dismissing Reeza Hendricks for a duck in the first over.
Arshdeep continued his impressive performance, taking the wickets of Van der Dussen, Tony de Zorzi, Heinrich Klaasen, and Andile Phehlukwayo, ultimately achieving his maiden five-wicket haul in ODI cricket. This outstanding achievement transformed his record from zero wickets in three ODIs to five wickets with career-best figures of 5/37 in just four games.
Arshdeep’s brilliant bowling display led to South Africa being bowled out for 116 in 27.3 overs. In the chase, debutant Sai Sudharsan and Shreyas Iyer contributed with significant runs, securing an eight-wicket win for India. Speaking at the post-match presentation, Arshdeep acknowledged KL Rahul’s role in his comeback.
Expressing his gratitude, Arshdeep said, “I would thank KL Rahul bhai as he said you have to come back and get that fifer. I guess it is about enjoying this moment.” Arshdeep’s performance earned him the Player of the Match award and also marked him as the first Indian fast bowler to take an ODI fifer against South Africa in the series opener.
Reflecting on his role, Arshdeep emphasized the team’s motto of adaptability and expressed his happiness in representing his country. Despite the challenges of playing in hot conditions and participating in a 50-over game after a year, Arshdeep’s hard work paid off, leaving him feeling refreshed after achieving his five-wicket haul.
The Arshdeep-led Team India is set to face South Africa in the series decider on Tuesday at St George’s Park in Gqeberha.