A resilient batting display from Zimbabwe A enabled them to draw the first four-day match against SA A in Harare.
Plenty of South Africans emerged from the match with credit, but they’ll be disappointed not to have made more out of the position they were in going into the final day.
They started day four on 121-2, looking to pile on some quick runs before sending in their opponents. They did exactly that as they scored another 50 runs in seven overs, offering Zimbabwe a target of 358. Theunis de Bruyn backed up his fifty in the first innings with another one in the second off just 55 balls, before Stiaan van Zyl (43 off 68) and Dane Vilas (18 off 9) took them to 171-2 dec.
South Africa thought they’d given themselves enough time to have a chance of taking ten wickets, but this was far from the case as the Zimbabwe top order displayed the same resilience that they did in the first innings.
Vernon Philander made early inroads with the new ball as he trapped Brian Chari lbw for 13, but that was as good as it got for the visitors as they struggled to find the breakthrough from there. The pair of Tino Mawoyo (79) and Prince Masvaure (88) held firm for 62.2 overs before the stalemate was confirmed.
In what is largely an audition for higher honours, it was a match that the South African batsmen will look back on fondly, as Omphile Ramela scored an unbeaten century in the first innings, which was backed up by half-centuries from captain Stephen Cook, De Bruyn and Stiaan van Zyl, while Dwaine Pretorius blasted an 83-ball 89.
The second and final unofficial Test between the sides gets underway on Firday.
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