Five out of the top-six South Africa A batters made decent starts, but were unable to convert those into substantial scores on day one of their four-day clash against their West Indies counterparts in Benoni on Tuesday.
The SA A batting line-up had a lot to play for, as they have Proteas Test coach Shukri Conrad guiding them at Willowmoore Park as he weighs up his options for the upcoming two-match series against India, which starts on Boxing Day at Centurion.
Conrad would have hoped for one or two of those Test contenders to go all the way to a hundred against West Indies A, but it was not to be.
After SA A captain Neil Brand was dismissed for just five early on, it looked like Tony de Zorzi and Zubayr Hamza were going to cash in on what is normally a good batting wicket.
They put together a 62-run partnership, but then Hamza lost his wicket for 30 (61 balls, 6x4) off the bowling of paceman Jayden Seales.
Proteas Test opener De Zorzi was the next to go, caught behind from off-spinner Kevin Sinclair for 55 off 103 balls (8x4).
Another Test regular in Keegan Petersen was joined by Western Province star David Bedingham, who has been in outstanding form for English county Durham in recent seasons in addition to his local harvest of runs.
The middle-order pair combined fluently, with Bedingham the aggressor and Petersen showing greater patience as they manoeuvred the Windies bowling attack in the afternoon.
But Sinclair struck once more to get rid of Bedingham for 47 (50 balls, 5x4, 2x6) as SA A went to tea at 205/4.
Soon after the resumption of play in the final session, Petersen was snapped up by Akeem Jordan for 59 – the highest score of the day – which again slowed down the SA A innings.
Wicket-keeper Clyde Fortuin was his usual busy self at the crease, though, reaching 53 off 70 balls (7x4, 1x6), but he received little support from the lower-order as South Africa A declared on 287/9 off 78.5 overs.
Seales was the pick of the visitors’ bowlers with 3/23 in 15.5 overs, while Jordan claimed 3/61 in 18 overs.
They would have hoped to grab a few wickets before the close of play, but Hardus Viljoen, Duanne Olivier and Dane Piedt were unable to get a breakthrough as West Indies A finished the day on 46/0, with Tagenarine Chanderpaul – the son of Shivnarine – on 27 not out and Zachary McCaskie unbeaten on 17.