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SA v IND, 1st ODI: When KL Rahul didn't expect Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan to run riot in Johannesburg


Captain KL Rahul revealed that he was surprised with the way the pitch at the Wanderers in Johannesburg played during the Pink Day ODI on Sunday, December 17, saying he was thinking of getting his spinners into the attack as early as possible. Both captains acknowledged that the pitch did surprise them after ODI series opener ended as a low-scoring affair, with India winning it by 8 wickets.| SA vs IND, 1st ODI – Scorecard |

India bowled out South Africa for just 116 in 27.3 overs after Aiden Markram won the toss and opted to bat on a sunny afternoon in Johannesburg. It was South Africa’s lowest ODI total at the iconic venue. Markram joked about his call at the toss after the one-sided defeat and it was not surprising to see KL Rahul making a cheeky revelation about the nature of the pitch.

The pitch looked dry and the chatter before the start of the match was about making use of the conditions in the first half of the match and putting a competitive total on board. In fact, Markram highlighted at the toss that the pitch might slow down in the second half, considering it was used as recently as Thursday in the 3rd and final T20I between the two sides.

However, Arshdeep Singh got the ball to move around in the air and off the pitch in a sensational first spell that took both camps by surprise. Arshdeep got the big wickets of Reeza Hendricks, who was in fine form in the T20Is, and Rassie van der Dussen in successive deliveries before getting Heinrich Klaasen and newbie opener Tony de Zorizi as South Africa slipped to 52 for 4 in their first 10 overs.

Avesh Khan, who was the first change bowler after Mukesh Kumar was taken off the attack, continued the pressure on South Africa batters as he chipped in with 4 wickets, getting Aiden Makram and Wiaam Mulder in successive deliveries as South Africa slipped to 52 for 6 in the 11th over. The pacers continued to dominate and only 2.3 overs of spin (by Kuldeep Yadav) was possible during the South African innings.

“The plans were to bring the spinners into the game, but there was lot of help in the wicket early and the boys [pacers] bowled really well,” KL Rahul said.

Markram highlighted that he would not have opted to bat first had he known how the pitch would play.

India, however, survived the early phase against South Africa’s new-ball bowlers. Despite losing Ruturaj Gaikwad early, Sai Sudharsan and Shreyas Iyer hit fifties as the visitors got past the finish line in just 16.4 overs.

Sai Sudharsan shone on his Test debut, hitting 55 in a fluent knock as he stayed unbeaten when India hit the winning runs.

It was also captain KL Rahul’s first win in South Africa after a forgettable tour of the Rainbow Nation in 2021-22. Rahul lost the only Test he led as stand-in captain and under his watch, India lost an ODI series 3-0.

“Lost three ODIs as captain here last time around. Good to get a win here in South Africa,” an elated Rahul said.

Rahul-led India will have an opportunity to seal the series when the two sides meet in the 2nd ODI on Tuesday, December 19.