Quinton de Kock had to be rushed into action by a South Africa A squad, ravaged by food poisoning, less than 24 hours after arriving in the country and responded with his ninth List A century in the tri-series match against India A at Chennai on Sunday.
In the end it was not enough to save the day as the home side won by eight wickets with more than 12 overs to spare which meant that they claimed a bonus point as well. Having played two of their four qualifying matches it is now almost impossible for the South Africans to qualify for the final.
With half of the squad going down ill overnight South Africa was forced to play an ill-balanced starting XI that had only four frontline bowlers with the likes of Dean Elgar and Khaya Zondo to make up the rest of the overs. Reeza Hendricks, Zondo and Mthokozisi Shezi were all on the sick list but had to play because there was nobody else available but all three had to be hospitalised during the course of the match. The same applied to De Kock who was hospitalised after the match.
The loss of Shezi, one of the frontline bowlers, after sending down only four overs was a severe blow as Elgar had to then fulfil the role of fourth bowler and, when the game ended, only two overs out of the fifth bowler’s ration had been sent down, so how they would have got through a full 50 overs is a matter of conjecture.
As it was they had to enlist the services of video analyst Hendrikus Coertzen as a fielder and also borrow a fielder from India A, Mandeep Singh.
Having posted a total of 244, South Africa still had a chance of getting into the game, thanks to an inspired new ball effort from Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Hardus Viljoen.
After four overs, two of which were maidens, India only had two runs on the board and Viljoen was unlucky in that a claimed catch by Theunis de Bruyn at second slip, offered by Mayank Agarwal, could not be confirmed by TV replays and thus the umpire stayed with his original decision of ‘not out’.
The fifth over, bowled by Tsotsobe, was another maiden but crucially he had the bad luck of seeing the other opener, Unmukt Chand, dropped twice in the space of four balls, first by Dane Vilas behind the stumps and then by De Kock at backward point.
That was as good as it got for the visitors as Agarwal and Chand proceeded to post a partnership of 219 in 34.4 overs that effectively killed the target. Agarwal made 130 (122 balls, 16×4 1×6) and Chand 90 (94 balls, 8×4 2×6).
Tsotsobe was the pick of the attack (1-32 in 7.4 overs).
De Kock made his 108 runs off 124 balls (13 fours and a six) but the only other contribution of note came from Vilas (50 off 50 balls, 3×4, 3×6). The two put on 100 for the fifth wicket in 15.3 overs.
South Africa A were due to play Australia A tomorrow but in the circumstances (10 in hospital) this match has been put back to Tuesday.