Marsh, Coulter-Nile star in high-scoring chase
Australia A 296 for 7 (Marsh 136*, Coulter-Nile 62, Finch 62) beat South Africa A 295 for 8 (R Hendricks 75, Ontong 71, Henriques 4-61) by 3 wickets
Australia A claimed first points in the tri-angular series against South Africa A and India A in a high-scoring chase. After conceding heavily on a flat wicket, Australia A may have had some concerns but Shaun Marsh batted through their innings, survived a middle-order wobble and shared a 133-run seventh-wicket stand with Nathan Coulter-Nile to ensure Australia A chased 297 with an over to spare.
South Africa A started well. Knights' team-mates Rilee Rossouw and Reeza Hendricks scored 11 boundaries in the first 10 overs and posted 79 after 15 before the first wicket fell. Rossouw became the first of Moises Henriques' quartet of scalps. Hendricks was joined by another franchise colleague, Dean Elgar, and the pair put on 47 runs for the second wicket.
Hendricks looked set to bring up triple figures but was dismissed on 75, leaving it to the middle order to build on the foundation. Justin Ontong took over from there and put on small stands with all the rest, including 57 with Vaughn van Jaarsveld for fourth wicket, but was prevented from launching by Glenn Maxwell who held up his end well. Ontong was dismissed off the last ball of the innings but South Africa A's bowlers would still have felt they had enough to defend.
Aaron Finch and Marsh had other ideas. They scored at eight runs an over for the first nine and their opening stand was worth 111. Just as South Africa A would have thought it was getting away from them, they struck five times in the next ten overs to swing the advantage their way.
Kyle Abbott accounted for Alex Doolan and Nic Maddinson while Beuran Hendricks also struck twice to leave Australia A at 150 for 6 in the 31st over. And that was where South Africa A's attack would have looked to the clubhouse and wished they could have asked Makhaya Ntini, who was visiting to watch his neighbour Ayabulela Gqamane play, to show them how to nip out a tail.
Marsh and Coulter-Nile were unstoppable and by the time the latter was dismissed, Australia A needed 13 runs off 17 balls to win. Heartening for South Africa A will be the return of Rusty Theron from a stress fracture. He went wicketless in his nine overs but went for under six runs an over.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent