The Ponting XII have pulled off a remarkable run chase to beat their older rivals the Gilchrist XII by five wickets in a thrilling contest at the SCG.
Will Pucovski’s 87no from 59 balls was the backbone of the Gilchrist XII’s total of 3-165 before Jack Edwards, Jason Sangha and the Ponting XII batsmen chipped in to secure victory with one ball to spare.
The match pitted the best young talent in the country against each other, with the Gilchrist XII featuring Under-19 talent while the Ponting XII was made up of Under-17 players.
: Ponting XII v Gilchrist XII
Having been sent in by Ponting XII skipper Will Sutherland, Pucovski and No.3 Param Uppal put on 104 runs for the second wicket after opener Max Bryant fell to Zak Evans for eight.
Uppal was the aggressor in the century stand, hitting four fours and an uppercut six over third man in his 50 from 45 balls before his stay in the middle was cut short by a sprinting Austin Waugh who nicely judged a catch at wide long-on.
With his partner in the dugout, Pucovski took the long handle to his younger opponents, at one point swinging so hard the bat flew out of his hands in similar fashion to Melbourne Renegades allrounder Dwayne Bravo has been seen to do in the KFC Big Bash League.
Pucovski sent the final ball of the innings to the boundary to post an imposing total.
If the Ponting XII openers in Angus Lovell and Jack Edwards were daunted by the run chase they didn’t show it as they roared out of the blocks with a full head of steam against the new ball attack.
The pair put on 75 in 60 balls for the first wicket, thrashed nine fours and six between them and put their older foes on the back foot.
Labelled a ‘bit of a freak’ by former Australia batsman Chris Rogers, the towering Edwards used his long levers to crack six fours and give the Ponting XII a strong start.
But just as the run chase was in control, Edwards (41) and Lovell (35) departed within the space of three balls, before Harry Wood was trapped lbw by Ryan Hadley for a golden duck to put the bowler on a hat-trick.
Waugh, son of Australia great Steve, survived the hat-trick but only just as he missed a cut stroke narrowly avoided an outside edge.
Waugh took up the challenge with Jason Sangha, the elegant NSW right-hander, as the pair wrestled the momentum back off the Gilchrist XI with a 64-run partnership.
Sangha was all class in his 20-ball 38, driving gracefully and looking at ease despite the mounting scoreboard pressure.
But the introduction leg-spinner Dylan Mullen in the 18th over proved Sangha’s downfall; the batsman caught at point after a mistiming powerful drive.
While Waugh was at the crease the Ponting XII was a chance, even more so when he swatted a six into the long-on rope in the mould of another Australia captain Steve Smith.
Needing nine off the final four balls, Waugh holed out to long off to depart for 27, but three wides off the next ball swung the match in favour of the younger youngsters.
Sutherland then clamly hit the next two balls to the rope to secure victory and a thrilling match in the inaugural contest.
Gilchrist XII: Xavier Bartlett, Max Bryant (both Qld), Ryan Hadley (NSW), Aaron Hardie, Bradley Hope (both WA), Matthew Gilkes (ACT), Lewin Maladay (NSW), Dylan Mullen (NT), Ben Pengelley (SA), Will Pucovski (Vic), Jason Ralston, Param Uppal (both NSW), Mac Wright (Tas). Coach: Matthew Elliott
Ponting XII: Jack Edwards (NSW), Zak Evans (Vic), Jarrod Freeman (Tas), Cameron Green (WA), Angus Lovell (Qld) Mitchell Perry (Vic), Lloyd Pope (SA), Patrick Rowe (Vic), Jason Sangha (NSW), Will Sutherland (Vic) Austin Waugh (NSW), Harrison Wood (Qld). Coach: John Davison
by Sam Ferris, cricket.com.au