India vs SA 3rd ODI | Samson hits maiden ton; India has the last laugh

India’s Sanju Samson in action during the 3rd ODI match against South Africa of India’s tour of South Africa, 2023-24 at Boland Park, Paarl, on Thursday.
| Photo Credit: ANI

India rode on Sanju Samson’s maiden ODI century and Arshdeep Singh’s four-wicket haul to beat South Africa by 78 runs at Boland Park on Thursday and clinch the three-match ODI series 2-1. 

Chasing 297, South Africa was off to a strong start as Reeza Hendricks and Tony de Zorzi put up a 59-run opening stand in quick time. Arshdeep then got Hendricks to play away from the body and edge a catch behind to the wicketkeeper.

Though de Zorzi continued his rich vein of form, Rassie van der Dussen and Aiden Markram fell to the spin duo of Axar Patel and Washington Sundar respectively as the hosts fell well short.

Earlier, Samson (108, 114b, 6×4, 3×6) found an ideal foil in the patient Tilak Varma, who struck his first ODI fifty (52, 77b, 5×4, 1×6), as they added 116 for the fourth wicket. The two came together when India was wobbling at 101 for three after being asked to bat first. Usually a free-flowing batter, Samson curbed his natural instincts, concentrating on singles and twos.

Samson also brought out his T20 avatar, smashing left-arm pacer Nandre Burger for a six over mid-wicket and playing an exquisite inside-out shot over cover off left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj for a four. His fifty came off 66 balls with a single to third man off the other left-arm pacer Beuran Hendricks.

At the other end, Tilak struggled to find his rhythm and finally scored a boundary — a pull off Hendricks — off the 39th delivery he faced. The left-hander, however, hung around with Samson and pulled India out of the woods. Tilak finally fell while trying to accelerate, a mistimed sweep off Maharaj ending in the hands of Wiaan Mulder in the deep.

But Samson carried on and was not to be denied a hundred this time. The landmark moment came when he pushed Maharaj to long-off for a single. Samson was eventually dismissed when he skied pacer Lizaad Williams to Reeza Hendricks. 

However, a cameo by Rinku Singh (38, 27b, 3×4, 2×6) helped India sustain the momentum and go on to win for the second time in South Africa after the 2018 series win. 

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