Samson’s maiden ton, Arshdeep’s efficiency hand India 78-run win over SA, bag ODI series 2-1


PTI, Dec 22, 2023, 8:07 AM IST

Credit: X / @BCCI

Paarl (South Africa): Sanju Samson’s mature maiden ODI hundred and wiliness of a young set of bowlers on a sticky surface formed a heady concoction in India’s 78-run win over South Africa in the third and final match here Thursday.

India, thus, bagged the rubber 2-1, their second series triumph on these shores since 2018.

Samson’s measured 108 (114 balls) and Tilak Varma’s patient 52 (77 balls), his first fifty in this format, guided India to a competitive 296 for eight. Their 116-run alliance for an enterprising fourth wicket stand was a treat to watch.

South Africa challenged the tourists through a fifty by Tony de Zorzi (81, 87 balls) but were eventually bowled out for 218 in 45.5 overs.

Left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh marshalled Indian bowlers with a satisfactory haul of four for 30.

South Africa made a bright beginning to their chase with De Zorzi and Reeza Hendricks (19) adding 59 runs in just 8.2 overs as the former took a heavy toll on pacer Mukesh Kumar in the power play.

However, Arshdeep elicited an edge from Hendricks to activate KL Rahul behind the stumps, signalling the end of the opening partnership.

Left-arm spinner Axar Patel castled Rassie van der Dussen with a ball that came along his arm to reduce the hosts to 76 for 2.

But it followed a period of stability as De Zorzi and captain Aiden Markram (36) added 65 runs for the third wicket to keep India at bay.

De Zorzi’s footwork was precise and he used the depth of the crease wisely to gather runs, especially against spinners Axar and Washington Sundar.

But just as the partnership was blooming, Washington, who replaced Kuldeep Yadav for this match, dislodged Markram.

Markram’s attempt to reverse sweep Washington brought disaster as Rahul snaffled the ballooning ball behind the wicket.

South Africa’s hopes of adding flesh to the chase suffered an even bigger jolt when Arshdeep won a leg-before appeal against De Zorzi via the DRS.

The left-armer jagged the ball into the Protea opener and the low-ball thudded onto his front pad as the Indian camp went up in appeal, which eventually brought the desired result.

Heinrich Klaasen (21, 22 balls) failed to negotiate a climbing ball from pacer Avesh Khan and he played it with hard hands.

Sai Sudharsan completed a super acrobatic catch inside the ring to dismiss Klaasen, reducing the Proteas to 174 for five in the 33rd over.

With the asking rate mounting ever so steadily, even David Miller could not carry South Africa past the target.

Earlier, Samson found a perfect sidekick in Varma to place India in a position of strength.

Samson and Varma came together when India were slightly wobbling at 101 for three after being asked to bat first.

But the pair showed excellent situational awareness and sussed up the conditions to a nicety.

Their partnership was all about pragmatism without letting go of any opportunity to unfurl a big shot.

Usually a free-flowing hitter, Samson shelved his macho intentions for a large part of his innings, concentrating on singles and twos as the Boland Park deck had this slight bite on it.

But the right-hander intermittently brought out his T20 avatar into play when he smashed pacer Nandre Burger for a six over mid-wicket or while executing an exquisite inside-out loft over cover off left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj for a four.

His fifty came off 66 balls with a single to third man off pacer Beuran Hendricks.

But at the other end, Varma struggled for flow as he could find a boundary only in his 39th ball, a scratchy pull off Hendricks.

However, the left-hander gave company to Samson to take India out of the woods.

Finally, Varma fell in his venture to accelerate, a miss-timed sweep off Maharaj ending in the hands of Wiaan Mulder in the deep.

But Samson carried on and was not to be denied a hundred.

The landmark moment for him came when he pushed Maharaj to long-off for a single.

But Samson was dismissed as he tried to up the ante as a skier off pacer Lizaad Williams was caught by Reeza Hendricks inside the rings.

However, a good cameo by Rinku Singh (38 off 27 balls) helped India motor on in the end phase of the innings.

But before India made that good fightback, the Proteas bowlers had them on the ropes.

Debutant Rajat Patidar, who stepped in for an injured opener Ruturaj Gaikwad, was a treat to watch during his 16-ball 22, exhibiting wonderful eye-hand coordination.

But Burger’s lovely in-dipper that disturbed the stumps snapped his stay and Hendricks trapped Sai Sudharsan in front of the wicket with a delivery that was angled into him from over the wicket.

Rahul helped Samson add 52 runs for the third wicket but the Indian captain’s effort to pull Mulder resulted in a catch to stumper Klaasen after the ball took a deflection off his thigh pads.

However, India found two willing soldiers in Samson and Varma to find an escape route to series victory.

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