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De Villiers, Markram star as Eagles win gold in 3TC Solidarity Cup
Cricket Returns in South Africa

De Villiers, Markram star as Eagles win gold in 3TC Solidarity Cup

AB de Villiers produced a remarkable 24-ball 61 while Aiden Markram top-scored with 70 to help Eagles clinch gold in the innovative 3Team Cricket Solidarity Cup.

The exhibition match marked the much-anticipated return to live sport in South Africa as players and match officials adhered to the strict safety protocols amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

The new format featured three teams of eight players each with every side batting in two phases of six overs. The match was contested in two halves of 18 overs with a short break at halftime.

Eagles rode on the blistering heroics from their skipper de Villiers, who starred in a century stand with Markram.

The duo's attacking batting lifted Eagles to an imposing aggregate of 160 for the loss of four wickets across 12 overs, taking them 22 runs clear of the 138 posted by silver medalists Kites and 47 more than Kingfishers, who took home the bronze medal.

The game, which took place at the famous Tshwane venue, had no fans in the stadium to cheer for the players and resembled the atmosphere observed elsewhere in the ongoing Test series between England and West Indies in the UK.

The date of the match coincided with Mandela Day as all those involved with the action sported black armbands to extend support to the global Black Lives Matter campaign.

All 24 players and officials took the knee in a symbolic gesture in solidarity with the anti-racism movement - days after 30 players of colour in South Africa issued a statement criticising the "racial divide" in the country's cricket.

The first team to bat in the clash was Kingfishers, who reached 56 for two in six overs whereas Eagles and Kites finished on 66-1 and 58-1 respectively.

The Eagles then had a booming start to the second half of their innings with de Villiers and Markram going ballistic from the get-go.

De Villiers, dubbed as Mr 360 for his electrifying strokeplay, raced to his fifty in just 21 balls while opening batter Markram crossed the half-century mark in 27 deliveries.

The Kites pinned their hopes of surpassing Eagles' towering total on Jon-Jon Smuts but his departure for 48 stemmed the flow of their batting charge.

The other batsman to shine for the Kites was Dwaine Pretorious as he managed a fifty off just 17 balls but the asking rate climbed out of his reach.

Janneman Malan was the leading scorer for Kingfishers with 31 as Faf du Plessis offered him company with a fluent 28.

Among the bowlers, Eagles profited from Andile Phehlukwayo's tight lines as returned figures of two for 24 in his three overs.