The infamous Delhi belly has struck the touring South Africans in Chennai. At one stage, India A batsman Mandeep Singh had to quickly wear the South Africa A cricket jersey and rush to the field after the visitors were reduced to a 10-man outfit.
As many as 10 South Africa A cricketers out of the squad of 16 as well as the South Africa manager Volvo suffered food poisoning, resulting in a shortage of players. All the 10 players were hospitalised.
The dire situation has forced the South Africans to request a change in schedule. It will be India A who will now take on Australia A on Monday and South Africa will next play Australia on August 11.
Such was the scenario on Sunday that South Africa A video analyst Hendrikus Coertzen had to take the field after their left-arm seamer Mthokozisi Shezi fell ill during the game.
Coertzen would later almost pull off a blinder off Mayank Agarwal at long-off but couldn’t control his catch. The situation got embarrassing for SA A team after Khaya Zondo went off the field at the end of the 30th over. At that point India A needed another 41 runs to win but their opponents had just ten men on the field. SA team management requested India A coach Rahul Dravid whether he could allow one of his players to field for them, and the former India captain agreed. Since Mandeep was not part of the playing XI, he was chosen.
“Most of their players were not feeling well, so they requested us whether we can send someone to field for remaining overs. They have also requested us that if we can play match on Monday which we have agreed to,” India A player Rishi Dhawan stated after their first win here.
On an opposition already ravaged by upset stomach and heat, the India A openers, Mayank Agarwal and Unmukt Chand came down hard as they added 219 runs to set up an eight wicket win, the hosts’ first in the tri-series.
Though they are widely regarded for their batting prowess, Chand and Agarwal share an identical problem when it comes to building their innings. The young openers have often been criticised for lacking necessary temperament, despite achieving success in the IPL as well as in junior cricket.
On Sunday, the duo proved their critics wrong as they kept in contention for the final. Chasing 245, Agarwal’s entertaining 130 and Chand’s (90) second half-century of the series ensured India A picked up a bonus point.
It was a performance that would have pleased Dravid. Before Agarwal and Chand stole the limelight, the bowlers had done their bit to restrict the visitors to 244.
Quinton de Kock, dropped from the senior team after a string of poor batting displays, scored a stroke-filled century. More than 50 percent of his runs came in fours and sixes but his knock of 108 did not prove to be match winning as he never got desired support from the other end. South Africa ‘A’ kept losing wickets at regular intervals, with Rishi Dhawan accounting for four wickets.
Things could have been different for South Africa ‘A’ had they capitalised on an excellent start by their bowlers. India ‘A’ managed just one run off the bat in the first five overs, which included three maidens and one wide.
They later squandered two chances to send Chand back to the pavillion, that too in the space of four balls. On both occasions, pacer Lonwabo Tsotsobe was the unlucky bowler; the left-armer’s testing first spell ended with the figures of 5-2-11-0.
However, once they had survived the initial period, it was tough to halt the Chand and Agarwal juggernaut. After scoring just one run in the first 16 balls he faced, Agarwal hammered six fours in the next 21. His aggressive display gave Chand an opportunity to settle after showing some early nerves. Tsotsobe and Hardus Vilijoen had constantly troubled him with the new ball.
But the bowlers could not sustain their pressure and began to tire in the Chennai heat. Leg spinner Eddie Leie was smashed for 74 runs in his 10 overs while the pacers too were sent packing.
India were never in trouble and by the time South Africa dismissed Chand in the 35th over, it was already too late.
Even Dean Elgar (1/69) had a sheepish smile on his face as Chand missed a sweep and was trapped in front of the stumps.
Agarwal too fell with the hosts just two runs away from the target. Karun Nair, who came in at the fall of the second wicket, scored the winning runs with a four.
Brief scores: South Africa A 244 all out in 50 overs ( Quinton de Kock 108 off 124b, Dane Vilas 50 off 50b, Rishi Dhawan 4/49, Sandeep Sharma 2/46) lost to India A 247 for 2 wickets in 37.4 overs (Mayank Agarwal 130 (122b, 16×4, 1×6), Unmukt Chand 90 (94b, 8×4, 2×6), Lonwabo Tsotsobe 1/32) by eight wickets.