Australia v South Africa, A-team tri-series, Chennai August 5, 2015

We didn't do anything special with the ball - Khawaja

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'We were all over South Africa' - Khawaja

Australia A bowled out South Africa A for 171, but there was no fearsome fast-bowling display nor were the spinners particularly spiteful. It simply looked like a decent bowling attack keeping to their disciplines and waiting for the opposition to make mistakes.

And there were plenty of those. Dean Elgar and Reeza Hendricks, the set batsmen, holed out in the deep on 28 and 43 respectively. Cody Chetty charged at the 20th ball he faced and dragged it onto his stumps. Theunis de Bruyn pushed a half-hearted drive straight to short cover and Dane Vilas was strangled down the leg side. Five of the top-six batsmen contributed to their own dismissals and left the team at 141 for 5.

"We didn't do anything special with the ball," Australia A captain Usman Khawaja said. "We bowled straight, guys hit a good length. In all honesty, and I'm not trying to sledge South Africa, but they just didn't play up to their best. They didn't play very well today and we played well enough to be all over them and use that momentum to get wickets nice and quick.

"Their middle order sort of let them down a little bit today, that was probably the only difference." Evidence of that is in the fact that there were five single-digit partnerships and only one that went past 29.

Hendricks, who was South Africa A's top-scorer with 43, admitted they did not cope with a slow and low pitch. Seven of the XI were playing competitive cricket for the first time since March, Lonwabo Tsotsobe's absence stretches to last December and although Vilas made his Test debut last week, he did not get to bat.

"I think we didn't execute well today and it just didn't come off for us. Obviously, we tried to get the runs because we were bogged down which led to false shots which obviously got us out caught.

"We are not used to this back home where pitches have more bounce and are quicker. But here it's a bit slow, and a bit lower. Just a few things we need to adapt to [in our games]. Playing the ball late, it is turning more than it does back home as well.

"But now we know what it's all about. We've experienced it today and so come Sunday and the next games, hopefully we can do well. "

Creating that kind of pressure and lulling batsmen into false shots, though, is only possible if bowlers keep to their disciplines. And Australia A did. All five used went at under 4.50 an over and legspinner Cameron Boyce was especially good at shifting the momentum back to Australia A after a 73-run opening stand.

He dismissed a solid-looking Elgar with lack of pace and loopy flight. The batsman was looking for an easy single with a chip over short midwicket and instead found himself playing too early and lobbing a catch to long-on rushing in. Boyce was introduced in the 11th over when South Africa A were 47 for 0, bowled his full quota in one spell and by the time it was done in the 29th, the score had barely snailed past 100.

"The reason I gave him 10 overs was he was just bowling so well and I just said keep bowling," Khawaja said. "Hopefully he'll take wickets, legspinners usually take wickets more times than not so I just kept him going. And [Ashton] Agar at the other end was bowling really well too. And then the quicks came on and it was reversing a little bit. Just all in all, it was a very good bowling performance."

So why couldn't South Africa A reciprocate the template when they bowled? The simple answer was that Khawaja and his opening partner Joe Burns adapted to conditions a lot better. They put on 142 without breaking a sweat. In the 14th over, when legspinner Eddie Leie was introduced, Australia A were 76 for 0 and the required rate was 2.59.

"By the time [Eddie] Leie came on and Dean [Elgar] bowled, the game was just about over anyway," Khawaja said.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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