There has been a great buzz around this India vs South Africa series for quite some time and it finally got underway on Friday at the prettiest cricket venue in India — Dharamsala.
Also read: 1st T20I - Rohit Sharma's ton in vain as SA power to 7-wicket win over India
Centurion Rohit Sharma in full flow against SA in Dharamsala on Friday. Pic/AFP
The South Africans, in their own methodical way, started the tour with an emphatic win. Rohit Sharma got a scintillating hundred. He has the ability to come up with a jaw dropping performance every now and again.
Two shots struck a chord — a cover drive off Kyle Abbott early in his innings where he just lent into it. The second was when he caressed Kagiso Rabadda's good length delivery into the crowd, seated in the upper tier of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium.
With that artistic hundred, Rohit posted the highest individual score in India's T20 history and let's not forget he has this honour in the 50-over format too!
His so-called 'casual approach' is always a talking point amongst pundits, but I beg to differ. His achievements in the shorter formats are there for all to see. I hope this series clears out this tag that he carries.
The South Africans started the chase in style with two of the most feared, yet elegant shot-makers taking centre stage — Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers. With De Villiers, you can feel his greatness. He is talked about in the same fearful manner as, if I can say so, Sir Vivian Richards in the 1980s.
A blazing start
That you need a blazing start while chasing a big score is a cliché. Sixty runs in five overs was blazing enough! This gave the strong South African batting line-up the chance to go for the kill later. JP Duminy showed his class and proved why he is regarded as one of the best finishers in business.
The ease in which they got the runs considering that they slowed down towards the end in a monumental run chase, just like Usain Bolt did for his first Olympic medal, is scary. One wondered where the game was heading.
The 16th over in each innings did the trick. Abbott jolted the Indians by picking two wickets and Axar Patel conceded three sixes in a row and gave 22 runs in one over. Now if you give away more than 10 per cent of the required runs in six balls, it's game over. For cricket lovers, this was just an appetiser. The main course is yet to come.
Amol Muzumdar is a former India 'A' player