Manish Pandey starred with a quickfire 81 as India A took an unassailable lead in the five-match unofficial ODI series against the visiting South Africa A courtesy a four-wicket win in Game 3 at Thiruvananthapuram on Monday (September 2).
Set a target of 208 in 30 overs, in the rain-curtailed contest, the Indian skipper led the team's recovery after a top-order failure, putting them on course to wrap up the proceedings with 13 balls to spare.
Rain continued to play spoilsport for the third game on the trot, reducing this one to 30-overs-a-side affair in which the visitors opted to bat first. Nearly every top-order batsman got starts for South Africa but fell in 20s and 30s. It was Heinrich Klaasen's 21-ball knock of 44 - that comprised four sixes - that gave the visitors momentum in the finishing overs.
While Shivam Dube and Shardul Thakur proved really expensive for India - leaking 77 runs in their eight overs combined - Deepak Chahar and Krunal Pandya were the pick of the bowlers with two scalps each as the tourists were kept to a modest 207 for 8 from their 30-over quota.
India's chase got off to an ominous start with Anrich Nortje dismissing both Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ricky Bhui in the space of three deliveries in the second over, with India A's score stuck on 5. Junior Dala lent another blow soon after as he took out Pandya for just 13.
Ishan Kishan, who saw the carnage from one end, then joined hands with Pandey to resurrect the chase. The pair added 70 runs for the fourth wicket partnership, with the wicketkepeer falling 10 short of his fifty. However, Pandey carried on and raised his first half-century of the series . He put on 37 runs for the fifth wicket with Nitish Rana before adding another 41 runs for the sixth wicket with Dube.
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