Indian quick bowler Arshdeep Singh is stronger, fitter and riding high after answering his critics with a match-winning attack on South Africa’s top order ahead of next month’s T20 World Cup.
The Sikh cricketer weathered a torrent of online abuse this month after dropping a catch in the Asia Cup against arch-rivals Pakistan, and was rested for the following series against Australia.
But he returned to the field on Wednesday and stunned the Proteas with three wickets in the first over, including Rilee Rossouw and David Miller.
He and fellow fast bowler Deepak Chahar cut through the tourists at Thiruvananthapuram and held them to a pitiful 9-5 before the third over in seaming conditions.
South Africa finished 106-8 and India’s eight-wicket win left the hosts 1-0 in the three-match T20 series, the final dress rehearsal for both teams before the World Cup starting in Australia next month.
“Purpose of the last 10 days was to get refreshed and come back stronger and fitter,” Arshdeep told reporters after he was named man of the match, with figures of 3-32.
“Today was a really good example of showing good powerplay bowling,” he added. “We are looking forward to doing amazing things in the coming games.”
Arshdeep, who made his international debut in England two months ago, has proved a welcome addition to India’s T20 bowling lineup, which has otherwise struggled to deliver in the crucial final overs.
His bowling for Punjab Kings in the Indian Premier League impressed national selectors and he returned the faith with figures of 2-18 on debut in Southampton.
It feels good
India have two matches to experiment before the Australia tournament and Arshdeep said that adaptability would be the key to success.
“When we go there, we will see how the pitches behave and how the conditions are and the dimensions of the ground,” he said.
Arshdeep is one of two recent debutants in the main squad headed to Australia in October, along with fast bowler Harshal Patel.
He said that team veterans had backed younger additions to the hilt – even when he was on the receiving end of Indian fans’ vitriol.
“It feels good, because the team environment is really good,” he said.
“All the juniors and seniors gel up really well and we enjoy each other’s success, and even if anyone is having a bad day everyone has each other’s back.”
India’s Arshdeep Singh (centre) celebrates after taking the wicket of South Africa’s David Miller (not pictured) during the first Twenty20I in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday. (AFP)