Thiruvananthapuram: Vice-captain K.L Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav slammed unbeaten fifties to give India an eight-wicket win over South Africa in the T20I series opener at the Greenfield International Stadium on Wednesday.
On a pitch which was made for fast bowlers to make merry, as seen from the five-wicket burst provided by Arshdeep Singh and Deepak Chahar earlier in the match, South Africa bowlers too were able to take out Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli early.
With the required run rate not much high, Rahul hung in and with Suryakumar in stellar touch, they put on an unbeaten stand of 93 off 63 balls to chase down 107 with 18 balls remaining, giving India 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
The hosts' were dealt an early blow when a peach from Kagiso Rabada in the second over lured Rohit Sharma into playing at it and thick edge went behind to Quinton de Kock, who dived to his right to send the Indian skipper back for a two-ball duck.
Post power-play, where India made only 17/1, their lowest score in the six overs phase, Virat Kohli tried to cut a short and wide ball from Anrich Nortje, only for the extra bounce to take the edge behind to de Kock. After hopping and fending on his first ball, Suryakumar slammed back-to-back sixes - a top-edge on pull went over third man and a nonchalant flick went over backward square leg.
Rahul, who was kept quiet by a slew of outswingers and inswingers apart from surviving close lbw shouts off Parnell and Rabada, opened up by flicking off his wrists over long-on for six off Nortje, followed by Suryakumar slapping through point for four off Keshav Maharaj.
Rahul then pulled Tabraiz Shamsi over backward square leg for six and Suryakumar ended the over by flicking hard off his wrists through deep mid-wicket for four. Suryakumar enthralled the crowd with his trademark shot when he lofted inside-out with the turn over wide long-off off Maharaj.
A pacy full toss from Nortje was lofted over cover by Rahul for six while Suryakumar placed a slower ball through point for four as India started to coast towards victory.
Suryakumar continued to collect fours with ease against Rabada and reached his second consecutive fifty in 33 balls in the next over. On the very next ball, Rahul slog-swept Shamsi over backward square leg to reach his fifty in 56 balls and complete the chase in style.
Brief Scores: South Africa 106/8 in 20 overs (Keshav Maharaj 41, Aiden Markram 25; Arshdeep Singh 3/32, Deepak Chahar 2/24) lost to India 110/2 in 16.4 overs (KL Rahul 51 not out, Suryakumar Yadav 50 not out; Kagiso Rabada 1/16, Anrich Nortje 1/32) by eight wickets