Theron outshines Finch as South Africa A win
South Africa A 252 (Vilas 55, Theron 53, Sandhu 4-51) beat Australia A 233 (Finch 119, Theron 4-51) by 19 runs
Rusty Theron first hit a belligerent half-century before his 4 for 51 instigated an Australia A batting collapse - six wickets for 23 runs - to hand South Africa A their first win of the tri-series in Pretoria. His all-round effort outshone a century by opener Aaron Finch, who was the last man dismissed as Australia finished 19 short.
Invited to bat, South Africa were pushed back early, Josh Hazlewood removing the openers inside nine overs. Dean Elgar came to the rescue again, his half-century adding much needed stability. Wicketkeeper Dane Vilas scored a 74-ball 55 as well, but he and Hardus Viljoen fell to Gurinder Sandhu in the 39th over. Theron looted 47 runs off 25 balls with No. 11 Beuran Hendricks, and reached his half-century and the team's 250, off his second six. His 39-ball innings ended when he was caught off Sandhu, who also claimed 4 for 51.
Set a target of 253, the visitors were cruising for the bulk of the chase, with captain Finch taking charge of two big partnerships - 84 for the first wicket with Shaun Marsh and 74 for the third with Nic Maddinson - and reached his half-century off 56 balls.
Halfway through, Australia were faced with a simple asking-rate under four an over, when they suffered a wobble, as Theron dismissed Maddinson. It tipped in South Africa's favour when Viljoen accounted for Mitchell Marsh and Tim Paine in the next over. Glenn Maxwell and Chadd Sayers fell in successive Theron overs and Australia A slumped to 172 for 7 from 160 for 2.
Finch played within himself, recording his fifth List A century. But Sandhu was run out at the other end, which brought Fawad Ahmed, the last batsman, to the crease with Australia 42 runs adrift. Finch opened up slamming two of his four sixes off Viljoen in the 41st over and struck Hendricks for a four in the next to reduce the equation as 24 to win. But Finch holed out to his counterpart Justin Ontong for 119 soon after to signal South Africa's victory.
"I'm very happy with the result but I felt like there are still a few areas that we need to work on. The first 10 overs of our bowling nearly cost us the match," Ontong said. "A few cheap wickets fell at the start of our innings which is something we need to avoid but Rusty took the responsibility upon himself and batted beautifully, getting us to a competitive total."
Theron was pleased with his returns as well. "It has been a long while out for me - had a stress fracture and a couple of minor niggles that put me out of the game for about a year, but it's good to be back and I'm thankful for the opportunity to be able to play a few games for South Africa and have a stage to try and make some sort of comeback."