India A storm into Tri-Series finals
A mind-boggling double century by Shikhar Dhawan (248) aided by a captain’s knock from Cheteshwar Pujara (109*) helped India A pull off a stunning victory in a must-win game against South Africa A at Pretoria on Monday.
India A were off to a fantastic start after electing to bat first in as openers Dhawan and Vijay were involved in a 91-run 1st wicket partnership. While Vijay departed after a patient 40, it was Dhawan who looked in destructive form as he tonked the South Africa A bowlers all over the park. Skipper Cheteshwar Pujara joined him and cashed in on the opportunity, and together they put up a mammoth 285-run stand for the 2nd wicket. Dhawan’s first 100 came off 86 balls, but his second came in just 46 balls, displaying the pace at which he constantly batted. The bowlers looked on helplessly as he struck 30 fours and 7 sixes on the way to his record three-figure mark, ensuring India A get past 300 in quick time. Dhawan was finally dismissed in the 45th over, when India A had already crossed 350. Even after his dismissal, Pujara continued to showcase his batting skills, getting to his unbeaten 109 in just 97 deliveries, with support from Suresh Raina (6) and Dinesh Karthik (18). In 50 overs, India A posted a humungous total of 433/3.
Against all odds, South Africa’s senior side had famously chased a target of 434 set by Australia in 2006.
Their A side took inspiration from that game as Reeza Hendricks (106) and Rilee Rossouw (43) added a quick 121 for the 1st wicket in just 12.4 overs. The partnership was broken by Shahbaz Nadeem (1/52), who cleaned up Rossouw. Dean Elgar (15) followed suit, as Suresh Raina (1/35) had him caught. However, Vaughn van Jaarsveld (108) attacked the Indian bowlers, reaching his century on the way. Hendricks departed off Stuart Binny (1/42), but the demolition continued as Justin Ontong (49) batted well to support Jaarsveld, before Dhawan (1/24) picked him.
Roelof van der Merwe (36) chipped in with important runs, but Ishwar Pandey (4/76) starred with the ball, picking up the crucial wicket of Jaarsveld and restricting South Africa A’s run flow by getting regular wickets. Jaydev Unadkat (2/79) supported him from the other end as the hosts were bowled out for 394 in 48.4 overs.
After the phenomenal showing, India A are now in the finals where they take on a strong Australia A side at Pretoria on August 14.