The highly anticipated series between Australia and South Africa finally gained momentum in the opening T20I at Johannesburg on Friday.
The packed Bull-Ring witnessed a fascinating batting effort from the visitors as they posted an above-par total of 196 on the scoreboard.
Commentators termed the Aussie batting inning as a peculiar one as the dual nature of the pitch enabled the South Africans to chip in with wickets constantly, but the host never put the foot off the accelerator.
When captain Aaron Finch (42 off 27) and Steve Smith (45 off 32) were at the crease, the Kangaroos went above 11 runs per over, threatening to post 220+. They were assisted by the erratic line and lengths from the South African bowlers with plenty of wide deliveries (12 in total).
However, decent spells from Tabraiz Shamsi, Andile Phehlukwayo, and Dale Steyn contained the expensive ones from Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi, who gave away 82 runs in their cumulative six overs.
Well, the match-winning contribution came from Ashton Agar (20 off 9), who provided the much-needed impetus at the backend of the innings. Later, he went on to wreak havoc in the hosts’ batting effort with his maiden 5-wicket haul in internationals.
The Proteas middle-order was bamboozled with Agar’s hat-trick. First, taking the prized scalp of Faf du Plessis, and then Phehlukwayo and Steyn off the subsequent deliveries, becoming only the second Australian to scalp a T20I hat-trick, after Brett Lee.
The 26-year-old found ample support from Adam Zampa and Pat Cummins, who picked up a couple of wickets each as the visitors ran through the hosts’ line-up, giving the Aussies a thumping 107-run victory.
In the end, South African got bundled out for a paltry 89 within 15 overs as Australia took a 1-0 lead in the 3-match T20I series. The action now moves to Port Elizabeth for the 2nd T20I on Sunday, February 23.
Zampa bowls Rabada | SA: 89
Rabada is out, bowled for 22 runs.
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) February 21, 2020
— CricketTimes.com (@CricketTimesHQ) February 22, 2020
Australia 196-6 (20)
Finch 42(27), Smith 45(32), Steyn 2/31 Shamsi, 2/31
South Africa 89-10 (14.3)
Du Plessis 24(22), Rabada 22(19), Agar 5/24, Zampa 2/9
Australia won by 107 runs