Contributing to India’s total of 296 for eight at Boland Park, Samson scored his maiden international century (108). South African captain Aiden Markram’s decision to put India in to bat on a slow pitch during a hot afternoon proved to be a miscalculation, as the hosts were dismissed for 218 in response.
Despite missing several players who participated in the World Cup final last month, India displayed dominance by winning two out of the three matches in convincing fashion.
“It’s a really young group of players,” Rahul said at the post-match presentation. “They have played a lot of cricket but not at international level. The message was to let them adjust to international cricket and let them get used to the pressure. Have fun initially and after a few games start expecting things from them.”
Arshdeep Singh, the left-arm opening bowler, delivered an outstanding performance, rising to the challenge by claiming 10 wickets in the series. On Thursday, he particularly shone with figures of four for 30, earning him the ‘Player of the Series’ award.
South Africa were in a strong position as Tony de Zorzi (87) and Markram (36) formed a solid partnership of 65 for the third wicket, pushing the total to 141 by the 26th over.
However, the momentum shifted when Markram, attempting a reverse sweep, gloved the ball to wicketkeeper Rahul; and 20 runs later, De Zorzi was adjudged leg before wicket to Arshdeep.
In the commentary box, former international players expressed surprise at Markram’s decision to bowl first. Despite this, Markram insisted that he didn’t believe it had an impact on the final outcome.
“We were good in small patches,” he said. “I still don’t think the surface changed much.”
Samson adeptly assessed the challenging conditions, showcasing patience in his batting as stroke-making became more difficult with the loss of hardness in the two white balls.
Forming a fourth-wicket partnership with Tilak Varma (52), Samson initially took 88 balls to reach a fifty; but they accelerated later, contributing 116 runs off 136 balls.
Samson’s innings comprised 114 runs from six fours and three sixes.
The solid foundation laid by Samson and Varma paved the way for India’s lower-order batsmen to accelerate towards the conclusion of the innings, scoring 51 runs in the last five overs.