The Proteas’ preparation for the upcoming ODI series against Australia got off to a less than ideal start after they suffered a four-wicket defeat to a Prime Minister’s XI in Canberra on Wednesday.
The roots of this loss wasn’t difficult to identify.
Like last month’s series against Zimbabwe, South Africa’s batting once again came up woefully short.
Only opener Aiden Markram (47 off 51) and middle-order dynamo David Miller (43) managed scores over 30 as the visitors were bundled out by an attack of which only one player, Jason Behrendorff, is 25 years or older.
The left-arm seamer was, almost appropriately, the man that snapped the Proteas’ batting backbone.
He took two wickets with his first four deliveries, castling Quinton de Kock for a golden duck and then luring Reeza Hendricks into a loose fend outside off-stump.
Behrendorff later also claimed the key wicket of skipper Faf du Plessis to end with figures of 3/35.
Subsiding to 139/8, South Africa were indebted to Kagiso Rabada (28*) for reaching a lowly 173.
Usman Qadir, son of legendary Pakistan leg-spinner Abdul, claimed 3/28.
The Proteas essentially lost the game early in the Prime Minister’s XI chase when No 3 Josh Phillipe walloped an attacking 57 off just 53 deliveries, notably hitting Rabada for six.
Lungi Ngidi though bowled an excellent spell of 2/16 from six overs as a mid-innings wobble saw the hosts lose their way at 87/5.
But the veteran George Bailey steered the ship into calmer waters with an unbeaten 51 off 76.
The three-match ODI series starts in Perth on Sunday.
Scores in brief:
Proteas 173 all out in 42 overs (Aiden Markram 47 , David Miller 45 , Usman Qadir 3/28, Jason Behrendorff 3/35)
Prime Minister’s XI 174/6 in 36.3 overs (Josh Phillipe 57 , George Bailey 51* , Jason Sangha 38 , Lungi Ngidi 2/16)