Cummins the difference - White
Patrick Cummins, Australia's 18-year-old fast bowler, was credited with putting his team in a winning position after their victory in the opening T20 against South Africa at Newlands. His captain, Cameron White, said Cummins' three wickets on debut in the 19th over swung the advantage Australia's way.
"It was the difference between chasing 160 and what we did chase ," White said. "It doesn't seem like much but when the game is getting close those few runs make a difference." White added that Cummins, who was Australia's second youngest debutant, bowled like "a seasoned pro" and his performance in his first match gave further evidence of a bright future.
The Man of the Match, Shane Watson, who is also Cummins' team-mate at New South Wales, was another full of praise. After talking Cummins up earlier in the week, Watson believed that he had lived up to his billing and that he will be careful to nurture his skills and not let any ego get it the way.
"There's no way he will let it get to his head," Watson said. "Deep down he knows that it's a really special gift that he's got, to bowl that fast at such a young age."
While Cummins grabbed the biggest haul, Australia's bowling was an all-round effort and White said the conditions had something to do with it. "They probably really appreciated the conditions. It was nice to see the ball swinging and bouncing."
One of the other debutants, Doug Bollinger, who was, somewhat surprisingly, playing in his first international T20 despite his success at the IPL, also impressed as he swung the new ball and was economical. "Doug has been doing well in Twenty20s for the last couple of years," Watson said. "He has been consistent and bowled with good pace, bounce and swing. When he is bowling well, it's hard to line him up more than anything,"
He claimed the scalp of Graeme Smith, lending weight to the theory that Smith has not dealt with his technical issues against left-armers although Watson wasn't reading too much into Smith's duck. "I think it's just luck. Whether you're right-handed or left-handed batsmen, you don't come across too many left handed bowlers," he said. "Left-armers have given batsmen a lot of trouble, not just Graeme, but having two left-armers does give us an advantage."
Watson also played his part with the ball but it was his swashbuckling 52 that took the game away from South Africa. After a lean run in the Champions League, Watson felt he was due some runs. "I had been feeling good in the nets so I knew I was not far away," he said. He was dropped on 2, by Smith in at first slip, and admitted that he needed a bit of luck but was pleased to capitalise on it.
South Africa didn't help themselves by the lapses in the field and had been put on the back foot early when Smith fell in the first over and Amla was run out coming back for a third. Colin Ingram and JP Duminy put them back on track with a third-wicket partnership of 58 and although it didn't prove to be matchwinning stand, Amla said it was one of the biggest positives of their defeat.
"That's what the selectors were hoping for, that the young batsmen would perform," he said. "JP's innings was a serious highlight for us. Some of his shots were unbelievable."
With the pair at the crease, South Africa looked on track to reach an above-par total but White said he never felt as though the score was getting beyond his control. "I didn't think it was drifting away from us," he said. "They always had to push on towards the back end and then we got a breakthrough and were really able to restrict them. The run rate was always around six."
While White said winning was a good start he added "it will be better to win the next one." Amla, meanwhile, was looking for aspects he can build on as South Africa attempt to level the series in Johannesburg. "In the batting department, we should look to score a bit more so that it gives the guys at the bottom a little more leeway," he said. "And, in the field we did show signs of not being at 100%."