Pretoria - Rusty Theron scored a
half-century and took four wickets to help South Africa A bounce back from
consecutive losses to claim their first win in the Cricket South Africa (CSA)
triangular series on Saturday.
They beat Australia A by 19 runs despite a fine innings by Australia’s Aaron
Finch, who scored 119 off 129 balls.
Theron is happy to be playing cricket again after being forced to take almost a
year off from the game due to injury.
“It’s the close games you want to win and it was a good team effort that got us
there. It’s good to be back playing cricket after my injury and a few niggles
and it’s even better to get this opportunity to try and stage a comeback,” he
South Africa won the toss and chose to bat first on a gloomy morning following
rain from the previous day. Their innings got off to a rocky start when Reeza
Hendricks was dismissed by Josh Hazelwood at the end of the first over without
Dean Elgar shared short-lived partnerships with Richard Levi (13, partnership
27), Vaughn van Jaarsveld (13, partnership 25) and Justin Ontong (6,
partnership 11) before he was joined by Dane Vilas for a fifth-wicket 50
partnership. He was eventually removed by Finch for 52 off 76 balls in the 28th
over. Theron came in at number eight and played a classy innings of 53 off just
Despite Mitchell Marsh and Joshua Hazelwood taking two wickets each, it was
Gurinder Sandhu’s day with the ball. He took 4/51 in just under nine overs,
getting rid of the South African middle-order to restrict them to 252 with just
over two overs left to be bowled.
Australia’s opening pair of Finch and Shaun Marsh packed a mean punch. They
shared an 84-run partnership off just 76 balls before Roelof van der Merwe got
the breakthrough, removing Marsh for 33.
If Sandhu was Australia’s bowler of the day, Theron was South Africa’s. His
four wickets came at a cost of 51 runs in exactly eight overs, including that
of the dangerous Nic Maddinson (40) and Glenn Maxwell (3) before he could get a
Finch carried the visitors’ hopes, batting at a strike rate of 92.24 when his
side were nine wickets down but fell victim to Hardus Viljoen, who returned
figures of 3/63.
Justin Ontong was a happy captain but remains aware of the areas that still
need work. Early wickets during their innings and loose balls bowled to
Australia almost cost them the match.
“I’m very happy with the result but I felt like there are still a few areas
that we need to work on,” he said.
“A few cheap wickets fell at the start of our innings which is something we
need to avoid. Rusty took the responsibility upon himself and batted
beautifully, getting us to a competitive total.
“The first 10 overs of our bowling nearly cost us the match,” he
continued. “They got off to a flyer again but we managed to bring it back
nicely, but I feel if we want to go all the way to the final we need to put in
some hard work and compete with these guys.”
South Africa are now in with a chance of getting into the final. They need to
beat India A on Monday in order to open the window of opportunity. Australia
play India on Sunday and will look to extend their lead with a third victory.