India fell short by merely 9 runs in the first ODI of the three-match series against South Africa on Thursday.

Chasing 250 for victory in rain-shortened 40 overs per side contest, Sanju Samson (86 not out) and Shreyas Iyer (50) made valuable contributions after a top-order collapse but couldn’t take India home. The hosts needed 30 to win in the final over and Samson hit Tabraiz Shamsi for 20 runs with one delivery resulting in a wide.

The 27-year-old wicketkeeper-batter, who was in the scheme of things for the upcoming T20 World Cup, but missed out, spoke about his knock during the post-match press conference. Samson stated that he fell short by just 2 shots in the game.

“Thoda time wicket pe guzaarna bhot acha pasand karta hu aur Indian jersey pehen k to thoda aur bhi special he ho jaata hai. Magar khelte hain toh hum match jitaane ke liye, toh thoda sa reh gaya. Do shots reh gaya. Toh agli baar achi tareh karne dekhunga. Par apne contribution se sehmat hu (I like to spend some time at the wicket. When you play in the Indian jersey, it becomes more special. We always want to win, but we just fell short this time. I just fell short by two shots. But I’m satisfied with my contribution),” Samson told reporters in Lucknow.

Speaking about his game plan for the last few overs, Samson said that he and his partners discussed about targeting Shamsi – who was having an off day on the field – and backed himself to go for four maximums in the final over.

“Unke bowlers achha daal rahe the par Shamsi expensive jaa rahe the, toh hum unko target kar sakte the. Unka ek over end me reh gaya tha, toh mujhe pata tha agar 24 run bhi honge, toh 4 chhakke main laga sakta tha. Main confident tha. Vo hi plan tha. Batsmen ne achhi tarah respond kiya, mujhe aisa laga. (They were bowling good but Shami was a bit expensive, so we planned to target him. I knew his one over remained and I thought, ‘If we have 24 runs remaining in the final over, I can hit 4 sixes’. I was confident and that was my plan. We responded well),” added Samson.

Earlier, batting first, South Africa posted 249/4 in their stipulated overs. David Miller and Henrich Klaasen remained unbeaten on 75 and 74 respectively.

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