India bowler Deepak Chahar faces a race back to fitness for the T20 World Cup after being ruled out of the final two ODIs against South Africa due to a back injury.

The 30-year-old was absent for the first match of the ODI series on Thursday, which South Africa won by nine runs, after struggling with a back issue in the third T20I against the Proteas earlier in the month.

With the World Cup following in Australia later in October, India have been dealt another injury blow having also lost quick Jasprit Bumrah to injury.

Chahar was named as a reserve for the World Cup, alongside fellow seamer Mohammed Shami, though the extent of the former's injury remains unknown as he heads back to Bengaluru to be monitored.

It is not the first time Chahar has suffered injury problems having already missed six months of action this year due to fitness issues.

All-rounder Washington Sundar has been called up as Chahar's replacement for the remainder of the ODI series in South Africa.

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.

Deepak Chahar was India's unlikely batting hero as his 69 not out inspired a thrilling ODI series-clinching win over Sri Lanka by three wickets.

India coasted to victory with 80 balls to spare in the first match of the three-game rubber in Colombo but they were left with a tall task when a magical leg-spin display from Wanindu Hasaranga (3-37) left them 193-7 after 35.1 overs in pursuit of 275-9.

Chahar, who has a highest first-class score of 57 not out, rode his luck at times and found a willing ally in fellow tailender Bhuveneshwar Kumar (19 not out), before swiping the winning runs through midwicket off Kasun Rajitha from the first ball of the final over.

Chahar also took 2-53 with the ball and began in a more customary new-ball partnership with Kumar, although the first-wicket stand had reached 77 by the time leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (3-50) had Minod Bhanuka held at midwicket for 36.

Bhanuka Rajapaksa was then caught behind first ball off a Chahal top-spinner, although patient half-centuries by opener Aviskha Fernando (50) and Charith Asalanka (65) – both dismissed by Kumar (3-54) – were the foundations of a solid Sri Lanka innings. Chamika Karunaratne provided some welcome late acceleration with 44 not out from 33 balls.

Hasaranga bowled the dangerous Prithvi Shaw with a googly and trapped stand-in India skipper Shikhar Dhawan lbw for 29, Ishan Kishan having dragged on a Rajitha long-hop.

Manish Pandey was unfortunate to be run out for 37 when Dasun Shanaka tipped a shot back down the ground onto the stumps from Suryakumar, who looked like playing a decisive hand before bring trapped lbw by Lakshan Sandakan for 53.

Sri Lanka captain Shanaka also removed the dangerous Hardik Pandya for nought, with his brother Krunal bowled by a beauty from Hasaranga to clear the way for Chahar to set up a grandstand finish.

Chahar in dreamland

India are now undefeated in their past 12 ODI series against Sri Lanka, winning 10, but they were left in the unusual position of needing a significant lower-order contribution. Chahar's undefeated 69 is the second-highest score by anyone in this format for his country batting at number eight or lower.

"Only one thing was going on in my mind: this is the kind of innings I've been dreaming of," he beamed while being named player of the match.

Sri Lanka fail to match Hasaranga heroics

Hasaranga dearly deserved to finish on the winning side, but the difference between his efforts and those of Sri Lanka's other frontline bowlers was significant. The wrist-spinner's economy rate of 3.7 was not backed up by Rajitha (7.4), Sandakan (7.1) or Dushmantha Chameera (6.5), who went wicketless in his 10 overs. Shanaka contributed 1-10 from his three overs, leaving himself curiously under-bowled.

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