A Proteas side missing some of the big names in their squad breezed past a Cricket Australia XI in a T20 warm-up match ahead of their T20I against Australia at Carrara on Saturday.
The Proteas got off to a flyer, Quinton de Kock smashing 16 runs off 10 balls, including three fours, before falling in the fourth over with the score on 20.
Reeza Hendricks and Aiden Markram added 66 for the second wicket in just six-and-a-half overs, with Markram’s good form with the bat continuing as he hammered 45 off 26 balls (five fours, two sixes).
Markram’s failure to pass 50 yet again will, however, require some analysis by the Proteas Brains Trust. He is hitting the ball like a champion but not pushing on to build bigger scores, so if they can just tighten a few nuts and loosen some bolts then he will be a terrifying prospect coming into World Cup year.
Hendricks played a good anchor role, adding a further 58 runs for the fourth wicket with a rampant Heinrich Klaasen, who slammed 41 off 23 balls (four fours, two sixes) before Hendricks fells for 39 off 38 balls (two fours, two sixes) with the score on 144 in the 16th over.
After being caught behind first ball in his only previous match on tour, Farhaan Behardien was eager to show what he could do, and he gave notice to selectors and fans with three sixes as he ended the innings on 27 not out off 14 balls.
Andile Phehlukwayo’s batting has been criticised in some quarters, but he displayed the full might of his power hitting potential at the death, smashing two fours and a six to score 17 off just seven balls (S/R 242.85).
The Aussie attack was far from fearsome, although they had some experienced players in the side, but the best return came Gurinder Sandhu (with just two ODI caps to his name) who registered figures of 3-0-18-1 (econ 6.00) as the Proteas posted an imposing 201-5 off their 20 overs.
With seven bowlers to call upon, the Proteas were never concerned about options for defending 202, and first-choice specialists Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Imran Tahir bowled just six overs between them as captain De Kock gave full four-over spells to Chris Morris (2-35), Tabraiz Shamsi (1-27) and Andile Phehlukwayo (0-38), who between them played in just one of the three ODIs in the series.
Alex Ross (40 off 35 balls, three fours, one six) and Max Bryant (36 off 22 balls, three fours, two sixes) top-scored for the Cricket Australia XI, but they could muster only 160-7 off their 20 overs as the Proteas cruised home to win by 41 runs.
The match proved to be an excellent workout for the squad and it gave some of the fringe players a confidence boost. More importantly, it’s helped the players click into T20 mode ahead of the one-off T20I on Saturday … before they head home for the excitement of the Mzansi Super League.
Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images