In a thrilling series opener against South Africa, KL Rahul’s stellar performance guided the Rohit Sharma-less Indian side to an impressive victory on Sunday at the New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. The absence of Rohit Sharma, the regular captain, did not deter the Indian team, as they showcased their prowess in both batting and bowling departments.

The spotlight of the match belonged to pacers Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan, who orchestrated a stunning batting collapse of the Proteas in the 1st One Day International (ODI). Arshdeep Singh, in particular, was the hero of the day, scripting history with a remarkable bowling performance.

Under scrutiny for not taking a wicket in his first three ODI appearances for India, Arshdeep Singh delivered a sensational new-ball burst. The fast bowler dismissed Reeza Hendricks for a duck in just eight balls, signaling a dominant performance. Van der Dussen followed suit, succumbing to Arshdeep’s pace without scoring, marking the beginning of a Proteas collapse.

The in-form speedster continued his onslaught, claiming the wickets of Tony de Zorzi (28) and Heinrich Klaasen (6) before dismissing Andile Phehlukwayo to complete his maiden five-wicket haul in ODI cricket. This extraordinary turnaround saw Arshdeep go from not taking a single wicket in his first three ODIs to achieving career-best figures of 5/37 in just four games, showcasing his rapid development and resilience.

Aiden Markram’s South African side, facing Arshdeep’s bowling masterclass, crumbled for a mere 116 runs in 27.3 overs. Debutant Sai Sudharsan impressed with a half-century, scoring 55, while Shreyas Iyer contributed another brilliant fifty, steering India to a comfortable eight-wicket win.

In the post-match presentation, Arshdeep Singh acknowledged the support of KL Rahul, thanking him for motivating him to stage a memorable comeback. “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 expressed, highlighting the camaraderie within the team.

Arshdeep Singh’s stellar performance also made him the first Indian fast bowler to take an ODI fifer against South Africa in a series opener. The Indian pacer, who felt a bit sore but relished the moment, emphasized the team’s adaptability and his satisfaction in representing the country, irrespective of his role.

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With the Arshdeep-starrer Team India displaying remarkable form, the focus now shifts to the series decider on Tuesday at St George’s Park in Gqeberha. As the cricketing world anticipates another gripping encounter, the absence of Rohit Sharma seems inconsequential in the face of India’s resounding performance in the series opener.