Hughes offers Bailey solace

Australia

Captain George Bailey found consolation in the performances of openers Phil Hughes and Aaron Finch, after Australia fell to a seven-wicket defeat at the hands of South Africa in Wednesday's tri-series ODI at the Harare Sports Club.

Captain George Bailey found consolation in the performances of openers Phil Hughes and Aaron Finch, after Australia fell to a seven-wicket defeat at the hands of South Africa in Wednesday's tri-series ODI at the Harare Sports Club.

The Australians climbed to an impressive 327 for seven on the back of Finch's commanding century and complementary half-tons from Bailey and Hughes. The left-handed Hughes, selected ahead of spinner Nathan Lyon, largely justified the recall.

He struck eight boundaries en route to a confident 51. Finch, meanwhile, graduated to 102 – nine fours and a solitary six included. The vigils proved in vain, though, as centurions AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis carried the Proteas to success with 20 deliveries to spare.

"Hughes batted really well, and particularly once we were sent in I thought that was a really important start for us. It was a little bit challenging at the start and I thought those guys got us off and running," said Bailey.

"They've been pretty consistent. Hughes has had limited opportunities but keeps putting his hand up. Finch seems to be getting better and better, and it was great to see him go on and turn that into a ton.

"That's something that we've spoken about, and he'd be pretty satisfied with that. I think that's the challenge for all of our top-order players – to get tons. As you saw in the chase, it makes it so much easier when you get someone you can bat around for the majority of the innings."

The Aussies will face Zimbabwe at the same venue on Sunday, when the temptation to field an unchanged XI might see all-rounder Ben Cutting and spinner Nathan Lyon remain sidelined.

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