The Coca-Cola South Africa under-19s pulled off a sensational victory when they beat India by 10 runs at the Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Stadium in Visakhapatnam, India, on Tuesday. This is the hosts’ first defeat in the tournament despite a century from their captain, Vijay Zol. The win also cements South Africa’s spot in the final on Saturday.
“It was a great win for the team,” Aiden Markram, who was captain for the day, said. “We still have a way to go if we want to be number one in the world, but to be able to come back so hard after they (India) were in the lead tells me we are progressing well with each game we play. The key will be to win the big match on Saturday, though, and we don’t expect India to hand it over.”
South Africa posted 257/6 after they were asked to bat first by India’s Zol. Runs were difficult to come by at the start, but two half-centuries by Clyde Fortuin (65 off 94 balls) and Yaseen Valli (64 off 49 balls) ensured the side had a par score to defend on a particularly slow and low wicket.
India’s reply was typical. They scored quickly up front and, apart from the loss of Akhil Herwadkar (0) in the second over, they pressed ahead, adding 76 runs to the scoreboard before losing their second wicket (Shubham Khajuria 36). Zol played an exciting innings, scoring 103 off 115 balls before he was brought to a halt by Kagiso Rabada in the 44th over.
India seemed to be cruising to a comfortable victory, but the never-say-die attitude of the South Africans saw a late revival of their bowling effort. Tight bowling and fielding in the last seven overs saw India lose five wickets, moving from 215/5 to 247/9 at the end of the match. Rabada was the leading wicket taker 3/45 in his 10-over spell.
Good bowling from the other seamers, Justin Dill and Andile Phehlukwayo, who took the final over to ensure his side’s victory, showed the side’s ability to bounce back from difficult situations.
Markram was particularly happy with the mental toughness the side exhibited.
“It was hot and difficult to play in those conditions and, when the game looked like it was running away from us, it was particularly difficult to stay positive,” he commented. “I want to commend the side for sticking to the plan all the way to the end and showing that grit that we’ve always known we are capable of.”
South Africa have one last match to play in Round Two, they take on Zimbabwe on Thursday and then India in the final on Saturday at the same ground. Markram believes it’s important to finish the round on a high note.
“Winning is a habit that we want to perfect so we’ll be giving our all into the game against Zimbabwe because they have some strong players on the side and it would be a mistake on our part to take them lightly,” he concluded.