India capitalised on a blistering start to post an eight-wicket win over South Africa in their first T20I on Wednesday, becoming the first team to capture five wickets in the opening three overs of a game in the format.
The Men in Blue wasted no time in decimating the South African batting order in Kerala, with Arshdeep Singh and Deepak Chahar combining to reduce the Proteas to 9-5.
The stunned tourists set a target of just 106, one India experienced little trouble in surpassing courtesy of half-centuries from KL Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav.
South Africa skipper Temba Bavuma failed to lead from the front on his return from injury as he was dismissed six balls in, and that was a sign of things to come as Arshdeep produced an incredible second over.
Arshdeep accounted for Quinton de Kock (1), Rilee Rossouw and David Miller – the latter duo for ducks – in the space of five deliveries as South Africa crumbled, before Chahar handed him a catch from Tristan Stubbs (0).
South Africa avoided further loss until Harshal Patel bowled Aiden Markram (25) lbw in the eighth over, but they made slow progress towards their score of 106-8 through Wayne Parnell (24) and Keshav Maharaj (41).
India joined South Africa in losing their captain early as De Kock caught Rohit Sharma for a duck following Kagiso Rabada's delivery before doubling up to fell Virat Kohli (3).
That was the extent of the Proteas' response, however, with the efforts of Rahul (51 not out) and Yadav (50 not out) ensuring India brought up 110 runs with 20 balls remaining as they seized the initiative in the three-match series.
South Africa run ends in dramatic fashion
South Africa came into Wednesday's match having won their last four completed T20Is away from home, looking to post seven wins on tour in a calendar year for just the second time in the format (after winning 14 in 2021).
However, their hopes of extending that fine run were left in tatters by India's fast start with the ball, as Arshdeep and Chahar ensured they became the first bowling side among full-member teams to scalp five wickets in the first three overs of a T20I.
Rahul and Yadav ease India to victory
South Africa's tally of 106 runs is the seventh-lowest score they have managed in the format, with their worst such performance also coming in India this year (87 all out in Rajkot in June).
India made a slow start to their chase, posting their lowest score (17-1) in a six overs powerplay in the format. However, the patience of Rahul and Yadav ultimately paid dividends as India cruised to a routine win.