Chennai: Opener Mayank Agarwal smashed a brilliant 130 in company of skipper Unmukt Chand, who complemented with a useful 90, as India A thrashed South Africa A by eight wickets to bag a bonus point in their second tri-series match here yesterday.
Chasing 245 for a win, India A raced to their target in 37.4 overs courtesy a 219-run opening stand between Agarwal and Chand at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. India A are now in contention for a place in the final with a match to go. Earlier electing to bat, South Africa A rode on Quinton de Kock's 108 to manage 244 all out in 50 overs. Medium-pacer Rishi Dhawan bagged four wickets.
But the star for India A was undoubtedly Agarwal, whose 122-ball knock was laced with 16 fours and a six. When a tired Agarwal, suffering from cramps due to the sapping city heat finally nicked one, India A were only two runs away from a deserving victory. Chand, also helped himself to a second successive half-century but the Delhi boy missed out on his three-figure when he completely missed a half-tracker bowled by his opposite number in Dean Elgar.
Chand's 94-ball knock had eight boundaries and two sixes in it after being dropped twice on naught in the same over with the unlucky bowler being left-arm seamer Lonwabo Tsotsobe. First he edged one to a diving wicketkeeper Dane Vilas, who failed to latch onto the chance. A ball later, he cut hard and de Kock failed to hold onto the powerful shot.
In fact both openers were very cautious to begin with as only two runs were scored after first 5.1 overs. Such was the dominance during those initial overs by South African pacers Hardus Viljoen and Tsotsobe, that India A openers played as many as 30 dot balls. It was in the sixth over that the shackles were broken after Agarwal slashed Viljoen over point and Chand guided one beyond skipper's reach for a boundary.
Once the first spell was gone, Indian openers settled for some dazzling strokeplay as leg-spinner Eddie Leie and left-arm spinner Elgar were taken to the cleaners by the duo. Agarwal hit the seamers, especially Viljoen over the infield while Leie was deftly late cut.
The 100 came when Agarwal pushed one off Elgar towards long-on. South Africa A looked a hapless bunch as two of their players were out due to stomach bug and hamstring trouble. It was India A's Mandeep Singh, who fielded during the fag end of the match along with South Africa A team's video analyst.