Australia A sealed a date with India B in the final of the quadrangular series in Bengaluru after winning a thriller against the same opposition by five wickets thanks to Jack Wildermuth’s last-ball six.
Wildermuth’s unbeaten 42-ball 62 gave Usman Khawaja, who brought up his 10th List A century, the necessary support to go past the 247-run target (in 40 overs, after a DLS revision) set by India B after Manish Pandey had hit a 109-ball 117* to power the Indians to 276/6.
Wildermuth and Khawaja put on a fine, unbroken 93-run stand, but they still need 19 runs in the final over, bowled by Prasidh Krishna. They brought it down to nine of two deliveries, before Wildermuth smashed a four through extra cover and an all-important six off the final ball.
“We were really trying to go there for a couple of overs, and couldn’t quite get there,” Wildermuth said of the climax after scoring his first List A half-century. “We just tried to put it over the fence. We needed 19 off the last over, so was trying to hit boundaries. That’s all you can probably try and do.”
It was a crucial partnership, particularly given that Australia A were reduced to 155/5 when Wildermuth joined Khawaja. And while Khawaja struggled for timing towards the end of his innings when the pressure was on to score big, Wildermuth kept hammering the biggies.
“Knew I had to take the innings deep,” Wildermuth said. “He (Khawaja) was obviously the set batsman, tried not to put too much pressure on him. If we could take it deep, there was always a chance. He batted beautifully. He’s a really good one-day player, and we knew we just needed to bat around him. He took it deep, it was about hanging with him and get the job done together.”
All of which, unfortunately for India B, meant Pandey’s knock amounted to little, as far the match was concerned. However, it would have done plenty good for Pandey’s hopes of making India’s squad for the Asia Cup, which begins on 15 September.
“Personally, I just think about batting,” he said. “I'm looking at the middle order at the moment, trying to seal that position. This series was a proving ground to get some runs and get looked at for the Asia Cup. I want to enjoy myself, there is competition, but I want to focus on what I do best.”
On the day’s other match, South Africa A beat India A by four wickets at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. Dane Paterson, the paceman, returned a brilliant 5/19 to bundle India A for 157 in 37.3 overs, and though Khaleel Ahmed’s 3/45 helped the home side make a fight of the match, South Africa got through in 37.4 overs.
The final, between Australia A and India B, will be played on Wednesday, 29 August.
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