July 18, 2020 / 2:10 PM / 19 days ago

Markram, De Villiers shine in three-team slogathon

PRETORIA (Reuters) - Aiden Markram and AB de Villiers bludgeoned lightning half-centuries to lead their Eagles side to victory in the inaugural, experimental three-team Solidarity Cup fixture at Centurion Park on Saturday.

Cricket South Africa is hopeful the unique format may catch on, though for many the jury will be out as the slogathon produced entertainment off the bat but little else for the purists to enthuse over in a display of power hitting.

Markram (70 from 33 balls) and De Villiers (61 from 24) helped the Eagles to 160 for four in their 12 overs, convincingly beating the Kites (138 for three) and Kingfishers (113 for five).

Played with the twin aims of raising money for charity and providing the country’s leading players with some cricket under COVID-19 lockdown, there were no fans in the stadium and all fielders were posted to the boundary in order to ensure social distancing.

The three sides, made up of eight players each, batted in two six-over innings in which they faced each of the other opponents in the field.

A draw at the start of the game decided who would bat, bowl and sit in the stands first.

The team with the highest score in the first round of innings, in this case the Eagles (66), bats first in the second to post an aggregate total for the other teams to chase.

Organisers believe the format can be played over anything up to 90 overs.

South Africa had a limited-overs tour to India cut short due to COVID-19, and series against Sri Lanka and West Indies have been postponed.

They had hoped to welcome India for three Twenty20 matches in late August, but that looks increasingly unlikely with both countries still yet to reach their peak of COVID-19 cases.

Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Ed Osmond

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