In spite of another bad start by the top order in which they lost four wickets inside the first 20 overs they played themselves back into the match thanks to a 58-run fifth wicket stand between the captain, Dean Elgar (64 off 85 balls, 6 fours) and Khaya Zondo (47 off 50 balls, 3 fours and 2 sixes).
The pair got their side to a position where they needed a run a ball at the halfway stage of the innings (150 off 150 balls) and 132 needed off 120 balls after 30 overs. With a big hitter in Dane Vilas still to come to the crease, victory looked a distinct possibility. But the dismissal of Elgar sparked the lower order collapse that left Zondo, the last man to be dismissed, without any support.
Australia’s total of 272 was built around a superb century from Matthew Wade, one of six members of this squad to be called up for the Australian senior side for the limited overs series against England later this month. Wade mastered difficult batting conditions better than any other player on either side to finish with 130 off 106 balls with 9 fours and 7 sixes. The other contribution of note came from Peter Handscomb (52 off 62 balls, 3 fours).
Elgar completed a good all-round match by taking 2/45 in 8 overs while the three seamers – Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Hardus Viljoen and Beuran Hendricks – shared 7 wickets between them, Tsotsobe’s figures of 3/50 in 9 overs being the best.
Three of the Australian bowlers called up for the senior squad – seamer Nathan Coulter Nile and the two spinners, Ashton Agar and Cameron Boyce – shared 8 of the 9 South African wickets to fall to the bowlers between them.
Australia have now won all four their qualifying matches and are comfortably through to the Final on Friday. India A, with one win, and South Africa A, still to get off the mark, play one another tomorrow. South Africa will have to win by a very substantial margin to reach the Final.
Elgar commented: “It’s been tough, off the field. Cricketing-wise, lot of things you can’t control. It’s been interrupted, with regards to preparation, with the illnesses and so forth.”