50 overs India 296 for 8 (Samson 108, Tilak 52, Hendricks 3-63) vs South Africa
The pair got together when India lost their third wicket for 101 runs, and their 116-run stand held the innings together through a middle-overs period where the slow surface and accurate spin bowling made run-scoring tough.
Tilak, in particular, was strangled by Keshav Maharaj and Aiden Markram early on, even as Samson – promoted to No. 3 for the decider – looked fluent against pace as well as spin. India’s scoring-rate dropped significantly between overs 11 to 30, as the pair – and KL Rahul previously – built at a slow pace, adding only 73 runs in that period. In the first ten, India had scored 59 courtesy a spunky 16-ball 22 from opener Rajat Patidar on debut that had given them the early momentum.
Tilak’s struggles against spin also starved Samson off strike for most of the middle overs, but Samson did not lose patience in his innings building, easing the overall pressure with the occasional boundary to keep India moving.
Once Tilak got his first boundary in his 39th ball to move from nine to 13, their partnership’s floodgates also opened, with the runs coming more frequently. The 71 runs the pair added between the 31st and 40th over brought India back on track with big-hitters to follow, but Tilak fell for 52 soon after hitting his maiden ODI fifty to Maharaj.
The incoming Rinku was quick off the blocks, but it was the confident Samson who played relatively risk-free cricket to keep India’s score moving. He brushed past his previous ODI high score of 86 and then in the 44th over, reached his maiden India century by driving down the ground for a single. His 110-ball century was followed up with a flex of his muscle, and with six overs left, the Indians had done relatively well after losing Patidar, B Sai Sudharsan (10) and Rahul (21) cheaply.
Samson was eventually gone for 108 with a strike-rate of almost 95 in the 46th over trying to hit Lizaad Williams out of the ground, but his century meant the stage was set for some late fireworks. That was provided by Rinku, who muscled 38 in 27 balls. He was assisted by small cameos from Washington Sundar (14 off nine) and Arshdeep Singh (unbeaten seven off two), while also being helped by the hosts bowling a flurry of wides at the death. That pushed India to a score of 296 for 8 – including 164 in the last 20 overs – to post a total that would keep both sides on their toes for the chase.
For South Africa, their bowling on a sticky surface earned just rewards early on with Sudharsan failing to make it three fifties in a row after being trapped lbw by Hendricks and Rahul caught behind off Wiaan Mulder after the ball hit the back of his bat. Patidar’s mercurial knock was ended by Nandre Burger, while Maharaj impressed with his miserly spell of 1 for 37 that included two maidens.