Rahul praises fighting spirit in inexperienced India side after ODI series win in South Africa

Sanju Samson's maiden ODI ton takes visitors to 76-run victory in the third and deciding match

By Reuters

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India's Sanju Samson celebrates his century during the third one-day international against South Africa on December 21, - AFP
India's Sanju Samson celebrates his century during the third one-day international against South Africa on December 21, - AFP

Published: Fri 22 Dec 2023, 1:39 AM

India’s inexperienced squad showed guts and plenty of fight to claim a 2-1 one-day international series victory in South Africa on Thursday as the young players revelled in the opportunity handed to them, captain KL Rahul said.

India completed a 76-run victory in the third and deciding match of the series in Paarl, boosted by an excellent 108 from Sanju Samson as he was one of the few to master the slow wicket.

Both sides rested key players with a two-test series starting on Tuesday. India in particular gave several inexperienced players a run.

"It was good to see what everyone did, they showed fight through of the series," Rahul said. "A few of them were nervous to start off, so I just let them be to get used to international cricket and the pressure.

"I am very happy for Sanju, he has been a great performer in the IPL (Indian Premier League) and unfortunately has not had enough chances near the top of the order for various reasons.

"There are so many world-class players in India that are settled at the top of the order."

Rahul, who featured in the World Cup final loss on home soil against Australia last month, said it is good to be able to play with a smile again.

"We had a disappointing result in the World Cup final and I had some time off. It was nice to get back on the cricket field and to be part of this group, putting up good performances.

"My message (to the players) is always to enjoy the game and each situation. Give your best and don’t worry so much about the result.

"It is a young group. They have played a lot of cricket but not at international level."

Seamer Arshdeep Singh was named player of the series after taking 10 wickets.

"The IPL has been a very good platform for us youngsters, there isn't a big gap between IPL and international cricket," Singh said.

"You understand the mindset of international cricketers and it helps. We are all loving the chances we've got. We'd love to give our all in the future and do well."

South Africa captain Aiden Markram commented: "We were up for it, it was a series decider at a great venue with a pretty full house (of spectators),"

"Our skills just let us down. We were good in small patches but could not stretch those out long enough to get momentum on our side.

"I don’t think the surface changed much through the day and I thought 290 was chaseable."

A two-Test series begins on Boxing Day, December 26. The first Test will be played in Centurion, while Cape Town will host the second Test from Jan,uary 3, 2024.

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