Yuzvendra Chahal, who has been out of touch from his usual best off late, seemed to have found his form with a match-winning performance against South Africa A. Riding on his five-wicket haul India A took an early lead in the unofficial One Day International series of five matches at the Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram, on Thursday.
Asked to bat first, the Manish Pandey-led side posted a total of 327/6 in 47 overs. Shivam Dube and Axar Patel were the stars of the pack for the home team with a score of 79 and 60 respectively. Opener Shubman Gill, who was not selected for the Indian ODI squad against the West Indies, missed out an opportunity to score a half-century as he got dismissed for 46. Skipper Pandey (39) and wicketkeeper-batsman Ishan Kishan (37), too, gave away their wickets after doing all the hard works to settle in the middle.
From there onwards, the India A side kept losing wickets at regular intervals. The team found itself in concerned position, having lost six wickets for 206 in the 36th over. However, Shivam Dube and Axar Patel not only halted the South African bowlers’ merry time but started taking the attack to them. Both the batsmen played shots freely and increased the run-rate rapidly to help India post a commendable total of 327. Both remained not out on their way to script an unbeaten partnership of 121 runs in less than 11 overs.
Defending, the hosts found their hero in the form of Chahal as he never allowed the touring batsmen to settle down. Despite an impressive knock of 110 in 108 deliveries by Reza Hendricks and a quick-fire 58 off 43 by Heinrich Klaasen, South Africa A failed to achieve the winning total as the Indian bowlers never allowed the other batsmen to get going. Patel shone with the ball as well for his figure of 2/39.
But it was Chahal all the way as he returned with a figure of 5/47 and gave a strong statement to the selectors to support his case for a return in the senior team. At the end, the visitors fell short and got bundled out at 258 as India A won the first unofficial ODI by 69 runs.