Elgar's ton boosts his Test hopes
South Africa A 276 for 4 (Elgar 135*, Ahmed 2-81) trail Australia A 474 for 5 (Warner 193, Warner 155*) by 198 runs
Dean Elgar made a strong bid to remain in South Africa's Test team ahead of the fit-again JP Dumimy with an accomplished, unbeaten 135 against a strong Australia A attack in Pretoria. Like David Warner on the opening day, the innings may have wider implications for Elgar albeit scored on a flat, lifeless winter track.
South Africa A coach Vincent Barnes admitted he would have liked a surface with a bit more bounce but the conditions at this time of year made that impossible. The High Performance Centre had done a sterling job in ensuring a lush, green outfield despite the dead grass at stadiums like the Wanderers and Centurion at the moment.
Having amassed a run short of 400 on the first day, at a rate of almost 4.50 per over, Australia A chose to continue on the second morning. Warner was out in the last over the previous evening but Glenn Maxwell continued to build on his century. South Africa A's attack could not dismiss either him or Tim Paine and Australia declared after facing 17 overs and adding 75 runs.
South Africa A batted at a slower rate but enjoyed a healthy opening stand. Free State team-mates Reeza Hendricks and Elgar put on 97, with Elgar appearing in good nick despite the off-season break. Josh Hazlewood bowled with good pace and eventually made the first breakthrough, dismissing Hendricks lbw.
Stiaan van Zyl did not show the class his reputation has been built on and was troubled by Fawad Ahmed, who once again made a push for an Ashes call-up. Ahmed had van Zyl caught at short leg for 8 and then took a superb catch off his own bowling - diving across the pitch - to dismiss Rilee Rossouw for a duck off the next ball. His hat-trick delivery could have seen Justin Ontong caught at silly point but the leading edge looped high and the fielder could not get to it in time.
Instead, Ontong survived to score a calm 60 and share in a 118-run stand with Elgar who brought up his century, off 151, balls with a single off Ahmed, after hitting him for two fours in the same over. Elgar showed good prowess against both seam and spin which will be encouraging for the national selectors ahead of South Africa's next Test series against Pakistan in the UAE.
Ontong was bowled by Moises Henriques as the shadows lengthened across the field but Elgar batted to the close. South Africa are still well behind, but with not much on offer for the bowlers the first unofficial Test looks to be heading for a draw.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent