Brilliant century by Tony de Zorzi gets Proteas over the line in second ODI against India

FILE - Playing in only his fourth ODI, Tony de Zorzi scored a brilliant century to help the Proteas beat India at St George’s Park in Gqeberha

FILE - Playing in only his fourth ODI, Tony de Zorzi scored a brilliant century to help the Proteas beat India at St George’s Park in Gqeberha on Tuesday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Published Dec 19, 2023

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There is no sweeter victory than one that signifies a successful turn-around against a highly rated Indian team on a sunny, festive afternoon in a packed St. George’s Park Cricket Stadium in Gqeberha.

Very few atmospheres in the world can match what the KL Rahul led Indian ODI team was subjected to on Tuesday, as the St. George’s Park Brass Band was in full cry and half the city on Christmas holidays already, while the other half most likely succumbed to submitting ‘sicknotes’ just to go to the cricket and watch the Proteas attempt a series levelling victory.

The city’s award-winning radio hosts turned up, celebrities and even the rested Proteas ODI captain Temba Bavuma was in attendance, having been in the Eastern Cape from last week already for family reasons.

To match the occasion, the Proteas put together a 130-run partnership for the opening stand between Tony de Zorzi (119*) and Reeza Hendricks (52) to help the team chase down a below-par 212-target that the visitors had set batting first on Tuesday.

De Zorzi was at his destructive best, smashing nine boundaries and five massive sixes. The left-handed batter had never been one to be timid even in his Under-19 days, and that is not only visible in his aggressive approach within the boundary ropes, but also through his flashy dreadlock hairstyle, through his tattoos and his bubbly personality.

To complement the fairly young De Zorzi who brought up his maiden international century yesterday, Hendricks took it upon himself to play a very mature innings, a knock that many have seen him carefully curate domestically. When De Zorzi reached a maiden ODI half-ton, Hendricks was hovering at 25 off 52 deliveries, until he reached a 52 off 81 to see South Africa 82-runs within reach of the target.

However, the two opening batters needed an equally clinical bowling attack in order to do what they did and Nandre Burger, Lizaad Williams, Bueran Hendricks, Keshav Maharaj, Wiaan Mulder and Aiden Markram delivered the goods with ball in hand yesterday, dismissing India for 211 runs inside 47 overs.

Playing in only his second ODI match, Burger was pick of the bowlers with a three-for, a bowling performance that saw him account for Ruturaj Gaikwad (10), Tilak Varma (10) and the captain himself KL Rahul (56).

The left-arm quick, Burger, had been making a lot of noise with nothing but pure and raw pace in domestic cricket, and yesterday, he showed the world that he too can easily crank it upwards of the 150 KPH mark and get rewarded for it.

Maharaj (2/51 in 10 overs) was equally impressive with ball in hand, taking two wickets while more than half of his deliveries were dot-balls.

Hendricks (2/34 in 9.2 overs), Williams (1/49 in 9 overs) and Markram (1/28 in 4 overs) also got in the wickets to set-up South Africa’s eight-wicket victory in the second ODI.

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