Board President’s XI eases past South Africa

Mayank Agarwal’s appetite for runs was far from being satiated as the Karnataka batsman continued his fine form to score a stroke-filled 87 off 49 balls and guide Board President’s XI to an eight-wicket win over South Africa in the warm-up T20 match at the Palam Ground here on Tuesday.

Mayank Agarwal in action against South Africa at the Palam ground in New Delhi.   -  R.V. Moorthy

Mayank Agarwal’s appetite for runs shows no signs of abating as the Karnataka batsman continued his fine form to score a stroke-filled 87 off 49 balls and guide Board President’s XI to an eight-wicket win over South Africa in the warm-up T20 match at the Palam Ground here on Tuesday.

Agarwal, who had scored a big hundred (176) to help India ‘A’ beat South Africa ‘A’ and reach the tri-series final in Chennai last month, unleashed his aggression, laced with maturity, to register an impressive knock and raise his stake among the top-order bench-warmers of the country.

Agarwal’s century partnership with Manan Vohra (56 off 42) helped the team overhaul the stiff target of 190 posted by the visiting team after it elected to bat.

In fact, the way the openers took up the job of building a huge partnership to put the home team in a comfortable position in the big run chase only underscored the unmistakable impact the Indian Premier League (IPL) has had on the young players. They were always in control of the situation and clinical in their approach.

“The plan was simple – try to keep wickets in hand, look to play cricketing shots and once a person gets set, to bat through and try to win the game for the side,” said Agarwal. “Having a good run (in Chennai) was good. It gave me confidence to come out here to play the way I did.”

Even as the South African pacers tried to get into terms with the slow pitch, Vohra and Agarwal found the gaps and rotated the strike. Moving in the crease nicely and creating space to play strokes, the duo exhibited a lot of common sense.

After the departure of Vohra, who hammered eight fours and a six, Agarwal, whose innings was studded with 12 boundaries and two sixes, played even more aggressively. Kagiso Rabada faced Agarwal’s wrath, as the pacer was hit for three fours to different parts of the ground in the 16th over.

Agarwal pulled Marchant de Lange to David Miller on the onside, leaving his team just a shot away from victory.

Earlier, J. P. Duminy made the best use of his familiarity with the ground as a Delhi Daredevils player to score a blazing unbeaten 68 off 32 balls, which contained two fours and six big sixes on the leg side. Handsome contributions from captain Faf du Plessis (42) and AB de Villiers (37) were also responsible for South Africa posting a challenging total of 189 for three.

“We would have loved the result to go our way, but I was quite pleased with our first outing in India. Scoring 190, that is a good thing. We could have done things differently with the ball or executed it better... We will make sure we put on big performances on big stage,” said Duminy.

The Indian spinners, led by chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav (one for 26), contained the touring batsmen, despite the lack of turn from the wicket.