Australia ‘A’ captain Travis Head produced an all-round performance to help his side to a 32-run victory over South Africa ‘A’ despite a century from his counterpart, Khaya Zondo in the One-Day Quadrangular Series in Bengaluru on Saturday.
Head’s 117-ball 110 helped his team to a substantial total of 322/5 at the end of their allotted overs before picking up 2/25 with the ball. The South African skipper played an aggressive knock, smashing 117 runs from 104 deliveries (4 fours, 7 sixes) as he looked well on the way to leading his side to victory at one stage. Wickets falling at regular intervals however, hindered their chase and saw them eventually bowled out for 290, giving Australia victory with eight balls to spare.
Earlier in the day, Head won the toss and elected to bat first at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, making a solid start in spite of the early run out of Usman Khawaja for 10. D’Arcy Short and his captain recorded an 83 run-partnership for the second wicket before the former found himself dismissed on 49 (56 balls, 5 fours, 1 six), trapped LBW by Shaun von Berg (1/54). Head soldiered on, partnering up with Marnus Labuschagne for a 136-run, third-wicket stand, the latter bringing up his eighth List A fifty before also going down LBW to Sisanda Magala for 65.
Matt Renshaw, who hit a quickfire and unbeaten 42 (29 balls, 6 fours) provided the ideal partner for his skipper, as he brought up an impressive sixth List A century. Head was eventually bowled out by Beuran Hendricks (1/57) in the 47th over, his side having edged past the 300-run mark before Ashton Agar added 17 runs off just four deliveries in the last over to set South Africa the daunting target.
Magala was the pick of the South African bowlers with his 2/59 with Hendricks and Von Berg chipping in with one wicket each.
In reply, Zondo’s men got off to an ideal start thanks to an 89-run opening stand between Gihahn Cloete and Sarel Erwee (37) before Head disturbed them with the latter’s wicket in the 13th over. He struck again two overs later, getting rid of Cloete just after he reached his 13th List A half-century (49 balls).
With South Africa two wickets down and over 200 runs still needed for victory, the batsmen struggled to kick on as wickets fell with regular occurrence. Rudi Second (11) and Robbie Frylinck were the only other batsmen to reach double figures thereafter.
Mitchell Swepson (3/40) was the chief-destroyer, picking up three crucial wickets in the middle-order, dismissing Farhaan Behardien (4), Senuran Muthusamy (1) and Dwaine Pretorius for a duck. With wickets falling around him, Zondo continued to impress and looked to have found a worthy partner in Frylinck. The pair recorded 83 runs for the eighth wicket, as the South African skipper reached a well-played hundred – his third in List A cricket – before Joel Paris made the breakthrough, getting rid of Frylinck for 30 (41 balls, 1 four, 1 six).
That wicket proved to be the final straw for South Africa. They lost the final two wickets with Zondo the last man to go – run out by Short.
South Africa ‘A’ are now bottom of the log with four points. India ‘B’ hold pole position with 12, followed by India ‘A’ with nine points and Australia ‘A’ are in third place with eight points.
Zondo will lead his men against India ‘A’ on Monday, 27 August at the same venue at 05:30 SAST.