Dwaine Pretorius shone with bat and ball to save South Africa A’s blushes as they beat India A by two wickets in the triangular series opener on Wednesday.
The hosts won the toss and opted to bowl first in the opening clash of the triangular series, which also includes Afghanistan A. Beuran Hendricks gave SA A the perfect start when he had Sanju Samson caught for seven.
Hendricks made it two in the over after Shreyas Iyer was caught behind off the third ball he faced. Karun Nair and Manish Pandey then repaired the early damage and led their side to within sight of fifty before Nair was trapped in front by Pretorius.
The visitors’ early strife was compounded further after the dismissals of Rishabh Pant and Krunal Pandya in quick succession to leave India reeling on 65-5.
Despite seeing wickets tumble at the other end, Pandey continued to resist the hosts’ onslaught, leading his side into three-figures. He added a valuable 38 runs for the seventh-wicket with Yuzvendra Chahal, passing fifty in the process.
Aaron Phangiso was the man to finally effect the all-important breakthrough for SA A, having Pandey stumped for a resilient 95-ball 55. With Pandey’s wicket went any hope India had of posting a competitive total, the tourists labouring to 152 all out.
Phangiso was the pick of the SA A bowlers, returning figures of 4-30, while Pretorius claimed 3-24.
SA A made a wobbly start to their chase, losing Henry Davids and Dane Paterson inside the first three overs. A stabilising 26-run stand between Reeza Hendricks and Heinrich Klaasen followed before India struck again, Hendricks on his way for 11.
The loss of captain Khaya Zondo and Heinrich Klaasen left the lower-order with it all to do with SA A struggling on 71-5.
Proteas duo Pretorius and Farhaan Behardien rescued the faltering innings superbly, guiding SA A to within 20 runs of victory. A late twist in the tale came, however, in the form of the dismissals of Pretorius for 38 (three fours, one six) and JJ Smuts (0) in quick succession in the 32nd over, which threatened to derail the innings.
Berhardien remained calm under pressure though, and despite the loss of Hendricks late in the piece, he ensured SA A squeaked home to register an opening win of the series.