South Africa A will need to fight hard to avoid defeat to the England Lions after ending day three on a precarious 29-4 in their unofficial Test.
The visitors began the day on 227-7, some way adrift of England’s 386. The day got off to a bad start for SA A when Wiaan Mulder was caught behind for 18. Beuran Hendricks continued to play positively, however, and farmed the strike throughout his partnership with Dane Piedt, guiding SA A to 264 before his spirited innings of 20 off 36 balls came to an end.
Duanne Olivier (15) and Junior Dala (14) did their best to eat away at the deficit, but when Dala became the final SA A wicket to fall, the visitors were still 103 runs in arrears.
In their second innings, the England Lions batsmen drove home the advantage created by the bowlers. Despite Hendricks nicking off Haseeb Hameed for just two, it was tough going for the SA A attack.
Captain Keaton Jennings and Mark Stoneman began to assert their dominance over the bowlers. A 145-run partnership in 35 overs powered the hosts past the 150-run mark. Olivier finally got the breakthrough his side were looking for when he bowled Stoneman for 86. Jennings and Nick Gubbins continued to strengthen the Lions’ grip on the game however, by increasing the lead in excess of 200 before Piedt finally had his man, Jennings out for 71.
A 22-run partnership between Gubbins and Dan Lawrence (18) followed, but ended after the latter succumbed to Hendricks. The bowlers continued to toil as Ben Foakes combined with Gubbins to add a further 69 runs, all the while making South Africa’s chase even more daunting.
Foakes made a 27-ball 34 before losing his wicket to Piedt. When Gubbins eventually lost his wicket with the score on 308, Keaton Jennings declared to set the visitors an imposing target of 411.
SA A’s hopes of victory were dealt two early blows, after first innings heroes Aiden Markram and Heino Kuhn departed for three and five respectively. Jamie Overton compounded the visitors woes when he accounted for Theunis de Bruyn (2) and Khaya Zondo (1) to ensure that SA A begin the final day in survival mode.
Temba Bavuma (16*) and Heinrich Klaasen (2*) will have their work cut out if they are to deny the England Lions victory.
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