Australia 87 for 3 (Bancroft 24*, S Marsh 10*) trail South Africa A 220 (de Bruyn 46, Cummins 4-32, Hazlewood 3-40) by 133 runs
A much anticipated series, especially for fans of fast bowling, kicked off in style as Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc began their South African odyssey by knocking over the A team for 220 in only 58.5 overs.
The Australian side which took the field in Willowmore Park was filled with first-choice players. In fact, everyone who was part of the final Ashes Test was on show except for David Warner – who, until Wednesday, was in New Zealand, leading the T20 side. And they had little trouble overpowering the hosts.
Hazlewood took out three of the top four, including the two highest scorers – Theunis de Bruyn (46) and Zubayr Hamza (44) – in successive overs. And Cummins made short work of the tail, finishing with 4 for 32.
While many of the frontline batsmen spent good time in the middle – de Bruyn, who was with the South African Test side that played against India recently, went at a strike-rate better than 100 – they couldn’t convert a start into a big score. They lost wickets in clumps as well, slipping from 107 for 1 to 119 for 4 in four overs and then from 203 for 5 to 220 all out in four overs.
With Warner missing from the top of the order, Usman Khawaja opened the batting but fell for 22 off 42 balls. Cameron Bancroft, however, went through to stumps unbeaten on 24 off 72 balls and would want to use this tour game to reclaim some of his lost form. The 25-year old’s scores tailed off in the latter half of the Australian summer – 10, 4, 25, 26, 27 and 0 – after a half-century on debut.
Steven Smith, came out in a blaze of boundaries, hitting one every five balls, but he was sent back for only 23, caught behind off an outswinger from Malusi Siboto. Shaun Marsh arrived at the fall of the captain’s wicket to ensure South Africa A would not pick up anymore until the day’s end.