Aussies cruise past Proteas
Cape Town - Shane Watson took advantage of an early life to draw first blood for Australia in the opening T20 international clash at Newlands on Thursday evening.
Set a modest target of 147 for victory the visitors triumphed by 5 wickets with 3 balls to spare.
The Proteas’ total of 146/7 after Hashim Amla had won the toss meant that they had to make some early strikes and they looked to have done that perfectly when Morne Morkel threw down the non-striker’s wicket from short fine leg to run out danger man David Warner who was facing his first delivery.
That made Australia 3/1 and it should have become 3/2 in the next over from Morkel when Watson, another lethal big hitter, edged the second delivery. Graeme Smith - who had to move to his left at first slip - spilled the chance. To add insult to injury it went for four as did the next ball which was dismissed with a classic off drive.
Man-of-the-Match Watson was to make exactly 50 after this let-off and, by the time he was dismissed for 52 (39 balls, 6 fours and 2 sixes), Australia only needed a run a ball to finish the job.
It was to the Proteas’ credit that they fought to the end and there were some good bowling performances from Morkel, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Johan Botha who bowled 36 dot balls between them (almost a third of the innings). It was Morkel’s dismissal of Watson followed by Botha getting rid of Shaun Marsh 8 balls later that revived the Proteas’ prospects.
Encouraging from a batting point of view was the performance of the Proteas’ emerging batting stars. Both Colin Ingram and David Miller have impressed with their temperament under pressure since making their debuts and they combined superbly with JP Duminy to put together two partnerships that gave the Proteas a chance after the early loss of Smith and Amla.
Duminy made top score of 67 (53 balls, 6 fours and 3 sixes) and one of those sixes struck off James Pattison over extra cover was probably as good as any stroke played all evening. He had partnerships of 58 with Ingram and 65 with Miller and these certainly put the Proteas in a position to post a more competitive total. In the process Duminy became the second South African (after Smith) to score 700 T20 International runs and the eighth on the all-time list.
But they had a disastrous 19th over from Australian teenager Patrick Cummins, who took three wickets at minimal cost, including both Duminy and Miller. Another wicket fell in the final over and in the end the Proteas managed only 14/4 in the last two overs.
The second (and final) T20 International will be played at the Wanderers Stadium on Sunday.
South Africa: Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, Colin Ingram, JP Duminy, David Miller, Heino Kuhn, Johan Botha, Robin Peterson, Morne Morkel, Juan Theron, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Australia: Shane Watson, David Warner, Shaun Marsh, David Hussey, Cameron White, Steven Smith, Matthew Wade, Steve O'Keefe, Pat Cummins, James Pattinson, Doug Bollinger.