Former left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan praised young Indian captain Rishabh Pant for utilizing different tactics and bowling six overs of spin in the first 10 overs against South Africa in the third T20I.
Having lost the first two T20Is, India desperately needed a victory in the third match in Vizag on Tuesday to keep their hopes of winning the series alive. Defending a total of 179, the Indian bowlers put up an impressive showing to restrict the Proteas to 131.
Praising Pant for making some smart moves as skipper during the third T20I, Zaheer said during a discussion on Cricbuzz:
“Rishabh used six overs of spin in the first 10 overs. That is something different from what we have seen in the first two games."
He also opined that the slow bowlers made the desired adjustments according to the conditions and were rewarded accordingly. Zaheer added:
“The spinners bowled a different trajectory. They were bowling a lot more flatter, especially (Yuzvendra) Chahal, who was also quicker through the air.”
While Chahal was Player of the Match for his figures of three for 20, left-arm spinner Axar Patel ended with economical figures of one for 28. Pacer Harshal Patel also starred with four for 25, which included the big scalp of David Miller.
Zaheer credited India for delivering under pressure and proving how desperately they wanted the win. The 43-year-old added:
“What was required under pressure to deliver for the team, they have managed to pull it out. A very important game for the Indian team. They managed to survive and proved that they have a very strong case for a comeback in the series. That makes for a very exciting viewing for the remainder of the series.”
On the batting front, Indian openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ishan Kishan also shone with half-centuries as the hosts posted a competitive 179 for five.
“Unlikely that India will change their playing XI” - Zaheer Khan on last two T20Is
Despite emerging victorious in Vizag, India still need to win the remaining two games to clinch the series. Asked if he sees the Men in Blue making any changes for the upcoming matches, the former cricketer responded:
“Unless there is a forced injury, it’s unlikely that India will change their playing XI. If at all that route had to be taken, it was for this game. But India showed their faith in their playing XI and got the desired results. You wouldn’t want to change unless the conditions are drastically different. Even in that case, I don’t see India making any changes.”
The fourth T20I of the India-South Africa series will be played in Rajkot on June 17 followed by the final game in Bengaluru on June 19.