Comfortable win for Australia A in Potchefstroom
Australia and South Africa A opened their seven match series at Potchefstroom with an entertaining day/night match won by the visitors by 30 runs (D/L Method) after rain in the South African innings threatened to end the game prematurely.
Earlier, in bright sunlight and a stiff breeze, Neil McKenzie won the toss for South Africa and asked Justin Langer's Australians to bat on what looked to be a hard and fast pitch with some grass visible.
David Terbrugge was first to strike when he got Ryan Campbell playing across the line to one that stayed slightly low edging into and uprooting the stumps with the score on 12. Campbell had looked solid playing straight and fell for four trying to work the ball to the on side.
Greg Blewett was in control for most of his innings but in attempting to take four runs after Steve Elworthy had cut off a ball on the mid wicket boundary and palmed it back to Andre Nel found himself run out for 24 and the Australians on 49 for two in the 14th over.
Ian Harvey came to the crease and his intentions were clear in trying to up the run rate. Three fours followed in eight balls before he was caught and bowled by Nel taking a low return catch for 14 and the score progressing to 71 for three.
Langer, who opened the innings, was joined by Michael Clarke and together they went about restoring the Australian innings. Playing intelligent cricket they worked the ball around the field and punished everything loose.
With Elworthy, Terbrugge and Nel having been fairly tight Justin Kemp and temporary bowler Loots Bosman bowled far too many leg side balls and may have been affected by the right left hand combination of the two batsmen continually rotating the strike.
Robin Peterson put a brake on proceedings with his off spin when he ended a 119 run partnership between Langer and Clarke. Forcing Langer into a false shot he trapped the left hander in front for a well played 86 in 108 balls striking 5 boundaries. Clarke followed shortly thereafter lofting Peterson to Kemp at long off. Clarke looked to be a very accomplished player with a solid technique and deserved his 63 off 82 balls including four boundaries.
Michael Hussey lived up to his reputation as a good limited overs player flaying a quick 32 off 28 balls before being run out and Mark Higgs with 25 off 18 balls before falling to Nel helped the score along to 268 for seven when the 50 overs were completed. George Hogg was the not out batsman on 11.
The South African innings started with disaster.
Gary Kirsten once again playing away from the body dragged one from Stuart Clark into the stumps off the inside edge for 7.
Three balls later South Africa went from eight for one to eight for three when Brad Williams fired two lightning fast balls into the pads of Bosman and McKenzie both out on first balls.
Martin van Jaarsveld dispatched the hat-trick ball for four with a glorious cover drive and together with Robin Peterson driving firmly through the covers set about the Australian bowling.
Clark was soon taken off after giving away 40 runs in five overs. He was followed by Williams, who at times bowled very quickly, going for 19 in four overs.
Heavy rain interrupted play after 12 overs with the South Africans recovering to 75 for three.
After a 45 minute break the players returned for a brief 15 minutes of play in which 2.4 overs were bowled and South Africa going on to 83 for three when the rain once again interrupted play.
By the time play was restarted the target for South Africa had been revised to 248 from 42 overs.
With the run rate suddenly slightly higher Van Jaarsveld did not last long being bowled by Harvey for 31 and Hogg trapping Peterson in front for a well played 56 from 56 balls leaving South Africa on 108 for five.
Ashwell Prince and Justin Kemp tried hard to keep the run rate at an acceptable level but some fine bowling from Hogg, Bracken and especially Harvey kept the pressure on the South African pair.
Williams came back for a brief spell and yorked Prince for 38 before Harvey returned to wrap up the tail. Keeping it full and mixing up his pace he deceived Stewart (13) and Kemp (51) scooping slower ball catches to mid off and mid on respectively.
Nel and Terbrugge did not offer much resistance while Elworthy ended on 10 not out.
A deserved victory to man of the match Justin Langer and his Australian team.
The second match in the series takes place in Benoni on Friday afternoon and hopefully the return of Mfuneko Ngam.