India A 327 for 6 (Dube 79*, Axar 60*, Fortuin 2-40) beat South Africa A 258 all out (Hendricks 110, Klaasen 58, Chahal 5-47) by 69 runs
Reeza Hendricks' 110 was not good enough for South Africa A as India A trumped the visitors in the first one-dayer by 69 runs. Allrounders Shivam Dube and Axar Patel struck quickfire fifties to rescue the hosts from a perilous position, after which their spinners - especially Yuzvendra Chahal, who took a five-wicket haul - dismantled South Africa A.
Sent in to bat, India A were in trouble when they lost their fifth wicket for 169 runs in the 28th over. The set duo of Manish Pandey and Ishan Kishan had fallen in the space of three deliveries and Krunal Pandya was to fall soon after. That's when No. 8 Axar joined No. 7 Dube, and the duo finished with nine fours and nine sixes between them, batting through the next 11.1 overs. In that period, they smashed 121 runs, especially severe on left-arm spinner George Linde who bowled his five overs at an economy of 9.80.
At the break, India A walked back for 327 for 6 in 47 overs, but the picture could've been much different had the seventh-wicket partnership not taken place. Each of their first six batsmen earned starts but failed to capitalise on them. Opener Shubman Gill fell four short of a half-century while Pandey and Kishan succumbed in their thirties. Rituraj Gaikwad made 10, Anmolpreet Singh made 29 while Krunal made a 25-ball 14.
In their chase, South Africa A were rocked by Janneman Malan's dismissal in the eighth over, out caught-behind off Chahal. Chahal soon removed Matthew Breetzke too, and when the South Africa A captain Temba Bavuma fell for eight, they were reeling at 81 for 3. The other opener Hendricks, though, went on to notch two useful partnerships with Khaya Zondo (30) and Heinrich Klaasen (58) and earn his 13th List-A hundred, giving South Africa A a window of opportunity.
But pinpoint bowling from the India A spinners, who bowled 27 of the 45 overs, helped the hosts control the game. And when South Africa A went for the late charge, they cashed in, with Axar collecting two wickets and Chahal a further three. For his allround contributions, Axar was named Player of the Match. The second of five one-dayers will be played on August 31.
Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo