South Africa v Australia, 2nd Twenty20, Johannesburg October 16, 2011

Early exchanges set the tone

Firdose Moonda at the Wanderers

In the space of four days, a series has begun and ended each team has had their chance to win and lose and, importantly, assess their relative strengths ahead of a busy summer. With spoils shared, South Africa and Australia are probably justified in believing their talents are well matched and both will be pleased with their bench strength and young charges, who showed that there is much to look forward to in the future.

Most impressive, was Patrick Cummins, the Australian quick who is barely old enough to legally drink alcohol, gamble, drive or get married, but bowls with incredible control. His second over, a double wicket-maiden, was remarkable in any format of the game, much less a Twenty20 and showed his ability to mix up his deliveries to make sure he stays one step ahead of the batsmen.

Although he was less successful later in the match, when the pressure had built, Cameron White knows a promising future lies ahead for him. "He performed unbelievably well," Cameron White, the Australia captain, said. "He is 18 years old and was playing at the Bullring, probably under the most pressure you can come across in the international game. He would have learned a lot from the last couple of overs, we all did. He can hold his head high, he is a fantastic prospect."

James Pattinson and Matthew Wade also had promising showings and although White lamented the drawn series, he could see the bigger picture. "It's a great learning curve and experience for our young team," he said. "It's a really hard one to swallow, we should have got over the line most times. We can't get that experience unless we're actually doing it. We should have come away 2-0, but we didn't. There's still a lot of positives to come out of it."

Hashim Amla also took heart from the drawn series, saying it gave fringe players the chance to prove themselves at the highest stage. With Dale Steyn and Jacques Kallis being rested from the series as part of the management's rotation policy, and AB de Villiers missing out through injury, the likes of Colin Ingram, David Miller and Wayne Parnell were given outings.

"The reason they [Steyn and Kallis] are rested is to give other people an opportunity," Amla said. "We know how fantastic they are and now we want to know how fantastic other players are."

Parnell was left out of Thursday's game and bowled waywardly on Sunday, where he struggled to find rhythm after an injury-filled year. However, he excelled with the bat scoring a unbeaten 29 off 11 balls to show his potential in that department. "We always knew he could play, he could be a genuine allrounder," Amla said. "He did not have the best day with the ball but it's about bouncebackability."

Parnell and Rusty Theron's 64-run partnership in under five overs came as a surprise to everyone, especially Australia who thought they had the game wrapped up with South Africa 84 for 7 in the 15th over. The two connected with everything that came their way and took the attack to the bowlers, who were overwhelmed by the change of gear.

"We had a clear understanding of what we trying to do and it wasn't anything extraordinary," Theron said. "They [Australia] didn't think it would get to the last over, and having David Hussey come on to bowl that proved it."

Theron also redeemed himself after an ordinary performance on Thursday and which led to comments from Johan Botha that he needs to lift his game. The easygoing red-head was under pressure after sensational death bowling spells in the domestic circuit.

"It was tough battle trying to bounce back from the other night and there were times when I thought it was a real uphill mountain, but my team-mates stood by me," he said. "In any sport, you will have situation where you need to come back from some sort of low and I did."

Bowlers from the Eastern Cape stole the headlines for South Africa, with Lonwabo Tsotsobe bowling well throughout the series. After a decent start to international cricket, he faced a tough second season with many suggesting he wasn't quite up to the highest level. Tsotsobe, though, has come back stronger and shown that the quality and intelligence with which he started bowling has grown. "He is a fantastic asset to have in the team," Amla said. "The way he bowls upfront puts us in a good position."

While both Amla and White agreed South Africa would be able to take some momentum into the one-day series, which starts on Wednesday, after their comeback here they also acknowledged that the series was too short to make proper judgements.

However, Amla drew positives out of the performances of their young players. "From what we know of them, their attitude is what sticks out and they have a massive desire to learn," Amla said. "At a young age if you have that, you can go very far."

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