Jack Wildermuth's Beast Mode onslaught steers Australia A to win in a final-ball thriller
Wilder-beast leads charge to victory
Moments after securing Australia A's spot on the quad-series final with a thrilling last-ball six, Jack Wildermuth revealed what was going through his head in the chaotic final over.
"Watch the ball, try and put it over the fence," Wildermuth said.
"We needed 19 off the last over, we needed boundaries so that's all we could try and do."
Set 247 from 40 overs after rain interrupted play in Monday's must-win clash against India B in Bengaluru, Australia A slumped to 5-155.
Usman Khawaja was on his way to an unbeaten century but when the equation got to a desperate 64 from 30 balls, the power-hitting of Wildermuth came to the fore.Image Id: AEE1D157AE4E4BFB88A552621357D27B Image Caption: Khawaja's 101 not out earned him player of the match // cricket.com.au
With a name like Wildermuth it's no surprise the 24-year-old's nickname is 'Beast', and with the scoreboard pressure mounting, the right-hander went into Beast Mode and hammered a pair of sixes over mid-wicket and a streaky boundary to relieve the tension and reduce the target to 44 from 24 balls.
India B's bowlers hit back and once again tightened the clamps, stifling the two Queenslanders, who couldn't connect despite their best efforts.
Twenty-eight off 12 balls turned into 19 off six after Khawaja brought up his 10th List A century, but the final over was left to Wildermuth.
Having made his international debut last month in a pair of T20 internationals in Harare, Wildermuth showed the mettle of a veteran representative player as he collected fours from the third and fifth balls from paceman Prasidh Krishna.
South Africa A, who had just beaten India A with a bonus point to move into second position on the ladder, would have been cheering Krishna and India B on, knowing a tie would see Australia A advance.Image Id: D10079F77236473B8737D87CE87F298F Image Caption: Teammates swamp Wildermuth // cricket.com.au
But with one furious swing of his bat, Wildermuth took the tie out of the reckoning as a flat-batted six soared over mid-wicket to record the unlikeliest of victories.
"I knew I had to take the innings deep," said Wildermuth, who arrived in the 29th over at the fall of Ashton Agar's wicket.
"'Uzzie' (Khawaja) is obviously the set batsman, I tried to not put too much pressure on him and if we could take it deep we were always a chance.
"They bowled really, their spinners. It was quite tough, it was turning quite a bit.
"Each of us needed to target a bowler that was probably spinning into us because it's really hard to get under the ball.
"We were really trying to go there for a couple of overs and we couldn't quite get it out of the meat of the bat for a bit.
When asked about the final ball, he said: "I knew if I had a ball in the slot I could put it over the fence.
"I'd been trying to play that same shot a couple of times during the over and I probably didn't get them and just made sure I watched the ball really hard.
"I knew if it was there I could put it over the fence."
Australia A now face India B again in a rematch on Wednesday where the winner will be crowned quad-series champion.
Having lost their first match to India A, the only way Australia could control their own destiny was by winning their final two group matches.
Travis Head's century on Saturday played a pivotal role in beating South Africa A, while Khawaja's unbeaten 101 from 93 balls was the backbone for the tourists yesterday.
The performances of Australia A's senior batsmen fills Wildermuth with confidence leading in to tomorrow's decider.
"We knew we needed to win," he said.
"We didn't start the tournament as well as we would've liked but the last two batting innings have been really great, especially from our top order.
"Someone has stood up and got a hundred – 'Uzzie' and 'Heady'.
"It's great to get a bit of momentum into the final now."
Australia A Tour of India
Australia A one-day squad: Travis Head (c), Alex Carey (vc), Ashton Agar, Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, Joel Paris, Matthew Renshaw, Jhye Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Mitch Swepson, Chris Tremain, Jack Wildermuth
17 August v India A: Match abandoned
19 August v South Africa A: Match abandoned
21 August v India B: Match abandoned
23 August v India A - lost by five wickets.
25 August v South Africa A - won by 32 runs.
27 August v India B - won by five wickets (DLS method)
29 August - Quad-Series Final
Australia A four-day squad: Mitchell Marsh (c), Alex Carey (vc), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Michael Neser, Joel Paris, Kurtis Patterson, Matthew Renshaw, Mitch Swepson, Chris Tremain
Four-day fixtures in Vizag
2-5 September v India A
8-11 September v India A