Off-spinner Simon Harmer claimed the best-ever figures for SA A - 8-87 - to clinch the series against Australia A
The development of the country’s second tier of top cricketers was shown by the way they improved in winter conditions that were much more suited to the Indian tourists.
Off-spinner Simon Harmer claimed the best innings figures for SA A to bowl them to a series-clinching victory over Australia A in Rustenburg, while left-arm swing bowler Beuran Hendricks produced the best ever match analysis as they beat India A in Pretoria to level that series.
SA A failed to make the final of the limited-overs triangular series against the two touring sides, but it took a record-breaking innings of 248 by Shikhar Dhawan to keep the hosts out of the finale, in which the Indians cruised to victory over Australia A by 50 runs.
The 50-over matches were all played at the L.C. de Villiers Oval at the University of Pretoria, which failed to offer any assistance to the bowlers and SA A coach Vincent Barnes said his players were going to have to learn how to play in such sub-continental conditions if they wished to play at the highest level.
“It was a harsh lesson for our bowlers, they had to work exceptionally hard. I can keep telling them that this is what Test cricket is like, but they have to actually experience playing on these decks. At domestic level, you don’t see reverse-swing and spin doesn’t play a major role.
“But in these conditions, seamers have to revert to other skills and reverse-swing plays a massive part. It helps that Australia and India sent two very strong sides as we tried to get as close as possible to Test conditions. It was a great measuring tool and, as a selector, I have a good idea where everybody is,” Barnes said.
Dean Elgar scored 268 to kick-start a prolific series for the left-hander, with Rilee Rossouw and Thami Tsolekile also scoring centuries against the Australians, while Vaughn van Jaarsveld and Reeza Hendricks managed to reach three figures in the limited-overs matches.
v Australia A @ L.C. de Villiers Oval, Pretoria
A determined Elgar equalled New Zealander Mathew Sinclair’s world record score for A internationals as he batted with tremendous application and concentration to give the national selectors a convincing display of his abilities. The left-hander shared a thoroughly dominating stand of 267 with Tsolekile, who made his best first-class score and joined Adam Gilchrist, Mike Hussey, Damian Martyn and Sir Garfield Sobers as the only players with three shares in sixth-wicket partnerships of over 250 in first-class cricket.
Warner had joined Elgar in making a point to his national selectors on the first day as, after being suspended from the Ashes tour and sent to Africa after trying to punch England batsman Joe Root in a pub, the left-hander hammered his way back into the Test team and shared a partnership of 204 in 38 overs with Maxwell, before being dismissed with what became the last ball of the first day. Warner did rather blot his copybook, however, on the final day as he and Tsolekile came together in an angry exchange.
v Australia A @Olympia Park, Rustenburg
Left-armer Hendricks snared the bulk of the wickets as the South African pacemen took advantage of swing-friendly conditions on the opening morning. The in-form Elgar and a composed Rossouw, who mixed watchfulness with aggression superbly, then overcame a pitch on which batsmen never really felt in to further batter the tourists on the second day.
Off-spinner Harmer then took control on a turning pitch to register the best ever figures for SA A. The 21-year-old Maddinson was the only Australian batsmen to bat with any authority in the match.
Triangular ODI series
6/8 Australia A bt SA A by three wickets
An opening victory for the home side looked a done deal after a fine opening stand between Hendricks and Rossouw of 87 in 15.3 overs had been converted into a formidable total by Ontong’s clean strokeplay, and a ferocious start to the Australia A reply had been weathered. But Shaun Marsh batted through the innings and, with Coulter-Nile playing a dramatic counter-attacking innings, the momentum was totally reversed by the tourists.
8/8 Australia A bt India A by seven runs
A phenomenal innings by Maxwell, who had never made a List A century before, and a top-class display of death bowling by Coulter-Nile clinched a thrilling victory for the Australians. Maxwell transformed an innings in disarray as six wickets had fallen for 32 runs and a devastating final assault saw him score his last 95 runs off just 32 balls, hitting Kaul for three successive sixes in the final over.
A solid Indian reply saw them needing just 23 from the last four overs with six wickets in hand, but a double-wicket maiden by Coulter-Nile in the penultimate over, after he had conceded just two runs in the 47th over, snatched a dramatic victory.
9/8 India A bt SA A by 18 runs
A great effort with the bat by Rossouw, Elgar and Van Jaarsveld was not enough to save SA A from a poor bowling display after they had sent India A in first following morning rain that delayed the start of play, and then returned to end the contest with the hosts struggling against the visiting spinners.
10/8 SA A bt Australia A by 19 runs
Theron did an excellent all-round job in winning the match almost single-handedly, scoring 47 off 25 balls while in the company of last man Hendricks to lift a flagging innings. With Australia A needing less than four-an-over, Theron was then at the centre of a collapse that saw them crash from 160 for two to 183 for eight, Finch’s century not being enough to complete victory for the visitors.
11/8 Australia A bt India A by 25 runs
Australia A booked a place in the final thanks to another inspired effort by Maxwell, who shared a partnership of 139 in 16 overs with Shaun Marsh. His younger brother Mitchell and Coulter-Nile then ensured 54 runs were plundered in the last five overs. India A were in position needing 136 off 18 overs, with seven wickets in hand, but Hazlewood claimed two wickets in the 37th over and then removed the dangerous Rayudu in the 43rd to tip the balance Australia’s way.
12/8 India A bt SA A by 39 runs
A freakish innings by Dhawan set up a thrilling match which was reminiscent of South Africa’s memorable victory in the “438-game” against Australia in 2006.
Dhawan made the second highest score ever recorded in a List A game, joining Sehwag and Tendulkar as the only Indians to score a limited-overs double century. He survived a chance on 154, but it was still one of the greatest innings seen on African soil.
Top-class centuries by Hendricks and Van Jaarsveld gave SA A hope as they kept the required run-rate to less than 10 for 31 overs, but a burst of wickets from Pandey ended the brave challenge as India A earned a place in the final.
14/8 India A bt Australia A by 50 runs
Australia A succumbed with barely a whimper after performing well with the ball. The India A innings looked set for bigger things when Dhawan, playing another fine innings, and Karthik were in full flow, but it rather faded away with Hazlewood and Coulter-Nile once again announcing their talents in the death overs.
But the Australian reply was stymied by a combination of Shami’s two early strikes and the wiles of the spinners.
SA A v India A, Rustenburg
SA A failed to meet the challenge of playing in conditions that were as sub-continental as could probably be reproduced in South Africa, India A’s attack impressing as they sealed victory by bowling the hosts out for the second time in two days to seal victory with just eight overs remaining.
The India A batsmen were willing to be patient against the new ball on the first two mornings, with Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina playing out six successive maidens to start the second day. The SA A batsmen, except for Duminy, were unable to replicate that sort of application and in both innings their top-order was dismissed quickly. Pandey was particularly impressive as he hit the deck hard and often used cutters to take advantage of the dry pitch.
SA A v India A, Pretoria 4-dayer
Beuran Hendricks’ excellent control of swing – in particular of the reverse variety – brought him match figures of 11 for 63, the best ever for SA A. He was able to bring the ball into the batsman as well as angle it away and he was well-supported by off-spinner Simon Harmer, who took seven wickets in the match.
SA A had made a disastrous start to the match as unfocused strokeplay saw them crash to 97 for six. But Parnell and Harmer then batted together for the second half of the first day and for more than an hour on the second, before Birch added more misery for the Indian bowlers at the end of the innings.
The post-tea session on the second day brought a dramatic Indian collapse from 95 for one to 145 for six at stumps and they were sent in again for four overs before stumps on the third day, losing Vijay to a Hendricks yorker as they chased 307 in 94 overs.
Pujara was run out off the first ball of the last day, heralding a dramatic collapse to 18 for five, before Rahane and Saha batted through to tea. But Hendricks then returned and swung a delivery back through Rahane’s defences to knock over his leg stump. The end came quickly thereafter for the tourists.