A-Team ambush England
England suffered a first defeat on their tour of South Africa, at the third time of asking, as South Africa A prevailed by four wickets in a Twenty20 game in Bloemfontein.
Asked to bat first, the tourists, who had seen off the Diamond Eagles and the Warriors in 50-over matches, collapsed from 71 for three to 89 all out in 17.3 overs.
South Africa A reached their target in as many overs thanks to 23 from both Rilee Rossouw and Vaughn van Jaarsveld, one more than England’s top-scorer Alastair Cook.
England face the full Proteas side in two Twenty20 internationals, the first on Friday in Johannesburg and the second on Sunday at Centurion.
They will hope to have frontline seamers James Anderson (knee), Graham Onions (back) and Stuart Broad (shoulder) available after the trio sat out today.
Opener Cook played in place of Andrew Strauss who will not be involved in the Twenty20 internationals.
Cook struggled to find his feet and was dropped in an eventful fourth over, the second and third balls of which saw thee bowler CJ de Villiers put down consecutive difficult chances off Cook and Joe Denly.
But luck finally went his way when an edge Denly, on seven, was excellently snapped up by a diving Heino Kuhn behind the stumps.
Jonathan Trott was next to go, for the same score, when he smashedde Villiers straight to Loots Bosman at point.
Paul Collingwood arrived in a hurry - smashing 10 from his first two balls bowled by de Villiers, who returned 2-19.
Cook was handed another life when Rossouw's one-handed effort at mid-on off Juan Theron agonisingly popped out.
But his captain was not so fortunate and was bowled by Thandi Tshabalala for 18, leaving the tourists at 49 for three.
The fifty came in the ninth over, but progress was still slow for England - the wickets of Eoin Morgan for 11 and Cook, whose 30-ball stay ended when he was caught by Rossouw at long-on, did not help.
More drama followed as Matt Prior, Luke Wright and Tim Bresnan were run out for nought, two and four respectively, before Graeme Swann and Sajid Mahmood fell as England were dismissed with 15 deliveries unused.
Swann took the new ball and it proved a successful move as the off-spinner removed Kuhn for four with his eighth delivery - the wicketkeeper caught at a wide backward point by Cook.
But once Swann was out of the attack, Bosman and Rossouw steadied the ship and mixed quick singles with boundaries to take their side to 46, before the latter tried to reverse sweep Adil Rashid and top-edged to Prior.
The fifty came in 10 overs, but Swann had Bosman stumped by Prior for 18 to finish with impressive figures of 2-9.
Rashid grabbed his second wicket when opposing captain Justin Ontong holed out to Denly at deep midwicket for six, while Mahmood removed van Jaarsveld and Rory Kleinveldt was run out for 13.
But it proved too late for England as Morne Morkel and de Villiers led their side over the line.