India A dominated Temba Bavuma-led South Africa at home in the five-match ODI series, beating them by 4-1. The weather conditions played a crucial role throughout the series as almost every match was a rain-curtailed one or delayed due to wet outfield. India lost only one game by a close margin of four runs. In all the other matches, the hosts registered convincing wins as India A continued their dominant run after beating West Indies A in away series.
The India A team was led by Manish Pandey in the first three matches and Shreyas Iyer in the last two. There was a shuffle in the batting order and the team was not the same in any of the unofficial ODIs as the team management gave almost every player a chance to showcase their talent. Here’s a look at a few standout performers of the series:
The wicketkeeper-batsman can be the backup plan for India if Rishabh Pant does not live upto expectations. Kishan has been consistent with the bat and outstanding behind the wicket. A great accessory to the skipper, Kishan always keeps the field in check and motivates the ones around him on the field.
Batting in the middle order and opening in one game, Kishan scored 132 runs at an average of 44 including a match-winning half-century before joining the Duleep Trophy squad. The 21-year-old scored a 24-ball 55 in the second match helping his team chase down the total of 163 with ease. In the second game, he opened the batting and kept the run rate above six runs per over despite three early wickets in powerplay overs.
Shivam Dube can fit in any team’s batting order as a floater. Whenever the run rate needed a push, Dube stepped up. The left-handed batsman played a pivotal role in the first games scoring an unbeaten 60-ball 79 to take the total to 327 for 6 in the 47 overs per side game. The 26-year-old followed it up in the third game with a 28-ball 45 and a 17-ball 31 in the losing cause in the fourth game.
The southpaw does not curb his natural instinct to hit big shots irrespective of the situation of the game. The Mumbai batsman puts a lot of muscle into his shots and can clear the boundaries easily. He can pitch in with a few overs of medium pace if need be.
Axar Patel is one of the most underrated Indian all-rounders. Patel can be used as a finisher down the order. He can go through quickly in the middle overs and keep the scoring rate in check. His arm balls can be really hard to hit for a right-handed batsman. The southpaw scored an unbeaten 36-ball 60 sharing a game-changing partnership with Dube in the first game. The 25-year-old may not have the exterior for it but he can hit the ball a long way.
The Indian opener was included in the squad midway. After lacklustre performances on the West Indies tour, Shikhar Dhawan needed to get back in form. Dhawan will play in the T20I series against South Africa. Luckily, he got T20-like practice as the fourth game and fifth game were reduced to 25 overs and 20 overs per side affairs respectively.
Dhawan scored half-centuries in both the games and got India A in a good position. However, the left-handed opener’s only problem was that he lost his wicket shortly after getting to his half-century. The 33-year-old may have got just enough practice ahead of the three-T20I series against the Proteas starting September 15.
Sanju Samson had not played a single game since the Indian Premier League (IPL) clash between Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Capitals. The youngster who usually bats in the top order had trouble understanding his role when he batted down the order in the fourth game. The 24-year-old got out for a single and contributed to the batting collapse of his team. His return to the field after five months was not something he expected.
The Rajasthan Royals batting mainstay returned to the top order in the final game. A 20 overs game much to his liking Samson came to bat in the second over. The Kerala batsman shared a 135-run partnership for the second wicket with Shikhar Dhawan. The wicketkeeper-batsman went on to score a 48-ball 91 laced with six fours and seven sixes. He got the ‘Man of the Match’ award for his performance in the final game of the series.