Pretoria: Shikhar Dhawan smashed his way to the record books with a breathtaking 248-run knock as he singlehandedly guided India A to a 39-run victory over a fighting South Africa A and into the tri-series final, here on Monday.
The 27-year-old Delhi left-hander blasted a 150-ball 248, which is only the second highest individual List A score behind former Surrey batsman Alistair Brown’s 268 against Glamorgan at the Oval, back on July 19, 2002.
Riding on Dhawan’s brilliance and some solid support from skipper Cheteshwar Pujara (109 not out), India A amassed a mammoth 433 for three in 50 overs. The target was a tall-order for the home team, but their batsmen fought hard before being bowled out for 394 in 48.4 overs.
Reeza Hendricks’ (102, 78 balls, 12x4, 2x6) and Vaughn van Jaarsveld’s (108, 91 balls, 7x4, 5x6) centuries were not good enough to take the hosts past the finishing line. India A will meet Australia A in the final on Wednesday.
The day undoubtedly belonged to Dhawan, who hit 30 boundaries and seven sixes in his innings during which he surpassed Sachin Tendulkar’s 200 not out against South Africa in 2010 at Gwalior and Virender Sehwag’s 219 against the West Indies in Indore back in 2011.
If Dhawan’s first 100 came off only 86 balls, the second hundred came off only 46 as he raced to his maiden List A double hundred off 132 balls with a push off left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks’ bowling at the LC de Villiers Oval.
Just when it looked that he would eclipse the world record, he was caught by wicketkeeper Dane Vilas off Rusty Theron’s bowling trying another slog shot. Dhawan added 285 runs in only 33.5 overs with skipper Pujara, who also helped himself to a three-figure mark facing 97 balls and hitting eight boundaries.
Dhawan started smashing bowlers from the word go. The first ball of the match, bowled by seamer Hardus Viljoen, was driven towards long-on for a boundary. In Viljoen’s second and the third over of the innings, Dhawan hit the bowler for three consecutive boundaries, something he repeated when left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe also came into bowl.
The moment a bowler pitched short, Dhawan rocked back to pull the deliveries in the region between deep mid-wicket and deep square leg. If he got fuller deliveries, he launched into them ferociously to drive in the arc between cover and mid-off. If there was width outside the off-stump, then the square cut came into play.