Australia endured some anxious moments before edging out South Africa by five wickets, after its bowlers set it up with a clinical display in an ICC T20 World Cup match here on Saturday.
Needing eight runs in the final over, Marcus Stoinis (24 not out) hit Dwaine Pretorius for two vital fours and completed the job with two balls to spare. This was after Australia was reeling at 81 for five in the 16th over. Defending a modest target of 119, South Africa got the start it was looking for when Anrich Nortje (2/21) dismissed opposition skipper Aaron Finch for a duck in the second over.
Finch went for a drive, but he could not middle it as the ball took a top edge and flew towards the third man region. Dropped from his IPL franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad in the second leg of the League recently, David Warner (14) seemed to have found his form with three boundaries. But, Kagiso Rabada cut short his promising start when the batter sliced one in the air for Heinrich Klaasen to complete a catch at backward point.
Mitchell Marsh fell for 11 as South Africa left Australia struggling at 38 for three in the eighth over. A partnership ensued between Steve Smith (35) and Glenn Maxwell (18), but their 42-run association for the fourth wicket ended when the former was sensationally caught in the deep by a sprinting Aiden Markram.
Smith pulled a short of a length delivery but Markram ran a long way before diving full stretch to his right to stun everyone. Left-arm chinaman bowler Tabraiz Shamsi then castled Maxwell to put Australia under the pump on a pitch that was not really conducive for playing expansive strokes.
Matthew Wade (15 not out) released the pressure with two fours off Rabada, bringing the equation down to 25 from 18 balls. Earlier, Australia’s bowlers scythed through South Africa’s top and middle-order batting line-up to restrict it to 118 for nine.
Josh Hazlewood (2/19), Adam Zampa (2/21) and Michell Starc (2/32) did most of the damage, even as rkram battled his way to a 36-ball 40. Had it not been for Kagiso Rabada’s 19, which included a one-handed six off Starc in the final over, South Africa would have got even less.