South Africa v Australia, 1st T20I, Johannesburg March 27, 2009

South Africa clinch thrilling victory

South Africa 168 for 6 (Morkel 37, Boucher 36*, Hussey 2-21, Geeves 2-35) beat Australia 166 for 7 (Hussey 88*, Warner 38, Peterson 3-30, Parnell 2-29) by four wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out

A bludgeoning late innings fightback from Mark Boucher and Albie Morkel steered South Africa from the brink of oblivion to a stunning four-wicket victory over Australia in the first Twenty20 international in Johannesburg. The hosts appeared to be in dire straits after losing five early wickets, but Boucher and Morkel belted 36 runs from Australia's 16th and 17th overs - including 21 from James Hopes' final six deliveries - to turn the match on its head.

Ricky Ponting called upon the rookie duo Shane Harwood and Brett Geeves - with one match of Twenty20 international experience between them - to bowl out the final two overs, and neither could wrest back the momentum for the tourists. Harwood, hammered by Herschelle Gibbs in his first over, conceded 14 runs from the penultimate over of the innings, and Boucher closed out the match in emphatic fashion by smacking Geeves for consecutive boundaries to seal victory with four balls to spare.

The last time he played the Australians in a limited overs contest at 'The Bullring', Gibbs plundered 175 runs as South Africa reeled in a world-record 434 with nine wickets down and two balls to spare. In the process, Gibbs effectively ended the international career of Mick Lewis, who conceded a record 0 for 113, and the South African batsman attempted to repeat the dose against Lewis' Victorian teammate, Harwood, on Friday by taking 17 from his first over.

Gibbs, though, could not replicate his heroics of three years ago, and fell to a mistimed drive from Geeves' first delivery in Twenty20 international cricket. South Africa's top-order soon followed him back to the pavilion and Australia, riding high on the back of David Hussey's brilliant all-round effort, seized the ascendancy.

But, as was the case at the Wanderers in 2006, Boucher loomed as a potent late-innings threat. After Morkel fell to Mitchell Johnson for 37 (from 19 deliveries), Boucher comfortably negotiated the final overs to finish with an unbeaten 36 from 22 deliveries and steer his side to a victorious 168 for 6.

The result did little justice to the brilliant solo-performance of Hussey. His sparkling 88 not out off 44 deliveries held together Australia's otherwise indifferent innings, and his dismissals of Hashim Amla and Vaughn van Jaarsveld undoubtedly brightened the day of his Australian and Kolkata paymasters.

Sent into bat by Johan Botha on a bouncy Johannesburg wicket, Australia's opening combination of Michael Clarke and David Warner were effectively muzzled by South Africa's new-ball pairing of Dale Steyn and Wayne Parnell. The pressure eventually told on Clarke, bowled attempting to lift the scoring rate by Parnell, and Ricky Ponting followed nine balls later also attempting to blast Australia into the match.

Warner went some way towards booking his ticket for the World Twenty20 with an innings of 38 off 29 balls, highlighted by a sequence in which he hammered Albie Morkel for a six and two boundaries in an over. But just when the Delhi-contracted opener appeared set to take control of the innings, he fell to a sharp return catch by Peterson and triggered a calamitous few minutes for the Australians.

Michael Hussey was run-out from the very next ball, and Brad Haddin caught in the deep three deliveries later. Neither batsman troubled the scorers, and left the Australian innings in strife at 71 for 5 after ten overs - a position from which they never fully recovered, despite the junior Hussey's late innings pyrotechnics.

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo