'Dhawan butchered us' - Ontong
"Highlights package" is how the South Africa A captain, Justin Ontong, described Shikhar Dhawan's record-breaking 248 in the final league game of the A team tri-series in Pretoria that put up an imposing target of 434 for the home side. Ontong said they were "butchered" by Dhawan's batting, but added they could have won the game had someone batted through during the chase.
"Dhawan summed up conditions quickly," Ontong said. "Every shot he hit found the gap or went over the fielders. It was like watching a highlights package. He hit so many good shots, it's hard to pick out one that stood out. There were a few sixes that went into the construction site.
"It was probably the best one-day innings I've seen. But I am also really proud of the boys. We showed some character when we were batting and if someone batted through, we could have won the game."
India A won the toss and were 161 for 1 at the halfway stage. But on a flat pitch and on a ground with short boundaries, Dhawan seamlessly switched gears to tear into the bowling, reaching his double century with just over 10 overs still left to play.
"There was nothing the bowlers could do," Ontong said. "They were bowling the lines and lengths they wanted to be bowling and he just hit them off those lines and lengths."
Ontong conceded that the South Africa players were left in despair by the innings, but coach Vincent Barnes reminded the team of the match when South Africa had successfully chased down Australia's 434 in Johannesburg.
"There was a bit of humour at the lunch break, because that's what you need in situations like that, " he said. "Some of the boys had their heads down but the coach, Vincent Barnes, came and said a few words. He told us that he was part of that 438 game and that if we put on partnerships we could get there."
South Africa came close to the target after opening batsman Reeza Hendricks and Vaughn van Jaarsveld scored centuries to keep the team interested till the last few overs.
"It was a flat wicket with nothing in it and for 80% of the time we chased really well. It's not every day you get two guys scoring a hundred and the team is still on the losing side, Actually, its not everyday you get four hundreds in a one-day match.
"Reeza and Vaughn scored two very special hundreds and our bowlers were exposed to international players of top quality. When you play ODI cricket, you will sometimes play on flat wickets, although this one was maybe a little flatter than you get elsewhere and the outfield was also very quick."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent