Australia crushed in T20 series opener

admin | 杭州桑拿
5 Jan 2019

As it happened

It did not have the lingering sting of a Test series mauling but Australia’s margin from victory was, allowing for the change in formats, nearly as wide as it was in the United Arab Emirates as its international season began with a Twenty20 mauling by South Africa.

Fringe batsman Rilee Rossouw, with a one-day average of 10.33 after six matches, benefited from Proteas’ policy of resting its elite players to earn selection.

On Wednesday night he also benefited from a dropped catch, from Nathan Reardon when he was on five, to exceed his entire one-day run tally with a commanding 78.

His lusty hitting, from just 50 deliveries, fuelled a century partnership with Quinton de Kock (46) that was the basis of the visitors to coasting past Australia’s skinny total of 6-144 with an over to spare in front of 26,370 at Adelaide Oval, to get on the board first in the three-match series.

That both set batsmen fell within deliveries straddling the 15th and 16th overs slowed South Africa’s march to victory but did never threatened it, winning by seven wickets with acting captain JP Duminy (4 not out) and David Miller (9 not out) at the crease.

Openers Aaron Finch and Cameron White gave Australia a healthy start with 0-27 after three overs but slowed, and then departed, in the second half of the powerplay.

White fell for 24 after Farhaan Berhardien’s spring from cover was just enough to prevent the ball sailing over the inner ring to the unguarded boundary. It was arguably the best of a handful of fine catches claimed by the Proteas fielders in the match.

The only time captain Finch struck the ball characteristically fiercely was his first delivery, which was technically a dropped return catch by the excellent Kyle Abbott (3-21) but more so an endorsement of his reflexes that eh was able his hands up so quickly.

Finch was one of two key batsmen to depart steering a catch straight to cover. His was in the fifth over for 14; the latter was Shane Watson for 47, in the 18th over right when Australia needed to accelerate sharply.

James Faulkner, with an unbeaten 41 from 33 deliveries, produced the only innings of substance beside Watson’s.

Debutants Ben Dunk and Reardon found the boundary on 80 occasions in the recent Matador Cup, form which sealed their international promotion. On Wednesday night the left-handers produced none between them, falling respectively for two and four.

The catch which claimed Reardon rivalled Berhardien’s for skill. The Queenslander top-edged an attempted glide through slips off Abbott, after which wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock overcame his lack of height by jumping and successfully thrusting his left hand into the air to pluck the chance.

The Proteas bowlers deserved credit for limiting the home team to only five boundaries after the initial six-overs powerplay.

The last came in the 16th over when Watson launched the third of his signature bombs over the mid-wicket fence. Australia’s inability to mount a late-innings surge was influenced by selecting only one specialist middle-order batsman: Reardon. Dunk typically opens while Faulkner and Ben Cutting (8 off 8) were, at six and seven respectively, were arguably batting a rung too high.

In South Africa’s innings Reeza Hendricks continued the dirty night for debutant batsmen – excepting Rossouw, who making only his Twenty20 debut – by edging the third delivery of the match, from Doug Bollinger, behind to Dunk, who caught smartly low to his right. Bollinger should have claimed another victim in his second over when Rossouw skied a cut towards deep point when on five, but back-pedalling Reardon was unable to get a hand on it.  Australia was made to rue that blunder, especially Bollinger after the left-hander thumped him for a six and two fours to start his third over, the fifth of the match.

The Proteas easily found the boundary more regularly the Australians – and did so with their biggest hitter, Miller, still in reserve until the game was all but won.

The sense that Australia had picked one bowler too many was reinforced by Pat Cummins, playing his first international in two years, and Cutting only bowling one over between them in the first 11 overs.

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