South Africa v Australia, 3rd T20, Centurion March 14, 2014

All-round Australia seal 2-0 triumph


Australia 129 for 4 (Finch 39, Tahir 2-21) beat South Africa 128 for 7 (De Kock 41, Starc 2-16) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Australia ended their South African tour as they started it: with an emphatic win in Centurion. They overwhelmed the hosts in the longest and shortest format at the venue to claim both trophies on offer in their month-long visit and winning the T20 series by a 2-0 margin.

In conditions that offered swing and seam movement, Australia's bowlers restricted South Africa to a below-par total. Their batsmen, sans David Warner who was rested for the final game, chased it down like a team in a hurry and they are - to get to the World T20 in Bangladesh.

Australia will go there far more prepared than South Africa after a clinical performance that exposed South Africa's vulnerabilities, especially without their two pace spearheads. Neither Dale Steyn nor Morne Morkel were included in the XI as they complete their rehabilitation from hamstring and shoulder injuries respectively but even they may have found it difficult to defend this total.

South Africa fell significantly below the average first innings score at this ground of 197. That number does not take into account the sluggish nature of the surface given the unseasonal wet weather but Australia showed run scoring was not as difficult as South Africa made it look.

They were pinned down by Australia's speedy assessment of the conditions and tactical nous in exploiting it. Mitchell Starc found extra bounce immediately and hit Quinton de Kock at the end of his first over - a maiden, which set the tone for Australia's effort in the field.

Although de Kock persisted and succeeded to some extent in moving forward to Nathan Coulter-Nile, Australia drew first blood when Starc trapped Hashim Amla lbw with a full delivery that swung into him and caught him in the crease.

George Bailey introduced spin in the fourth over and Glenn Maxwell had reward almost immediately. Faf du Plessis looked to clear mid-off but Brad Hogg proved age is nothing but a number. He backpedalled and took the catch to put South Africa in trouble at 20 for 2.

That was where South Africa made a tactical error. Instead of sending in their best batsman, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy was deployed at No.4. He smoked two gorgeous boundaries before becoming the second man to give it away. Duminy picked out the man at deep cover which meant de Villiers faced pressure from the moment he walked out.

He also found a fielder, at deep square leg, which brought South Africa's finishers to the crease too early. David Miller tried to drive on the up and was caught at short cover. De Kock, who saw very little of the strike after the first six overs, was a victim of turn and Albie Morkel was yorked after striking two meaty sixes.

South Africa managed 24 runs off the last three overs. Their highest partnership was only 25 and it was always unlikely to be enough.

Even though the juggling of their batting line-up did not work, South Africa chose to do the same with their bowling. They opened with Duminy but the gamble did not pay off.

Aaron Finch took advantage of anything short or wide and after Duminy, South Africa's slew of left-arm seamers offered plenty. By the end of the fourth over, Finch had brought Australia's required run-rate down to less than a run a ball.

Finch and Cameron White posted the highest partnership in the game, 43, and the contest was all but decided there. It still required Shane Watson to anchor the rest of the chase after Finch mis-timed his slog sweep off Imran Tahir.

The legspinner was the only positive for South Africa in the field. He bowled smartly, mixing his googly with his stock delivery and tossing it up generously in search of a wicket. He even claimed a second one, that of Watson, who also got the slog sweep wrong but by then, the deal was sealed.

Watson had already taken 12 off three balls off Morkel's over and Maxwell added to the returnee's misery. Morkel's second over cost 18 runs and by then Australia only needed 26 runs off the last eight overs. They got there in three to emphasise their dominance over South Africa and leave du Plessis and Russell Domingo with questions to be answered about how they will make best use of their resources at the World T20.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • David on March 17, 2014, 2:18 GMT

    @ TheBigBoodha. Thanks for your comment. I don't think you could be mixing me up with anyone out my way. I'm unfortunately marooned in that sporting wasteland called the USA. Not many cricket supporter out this way. The only people I talk to about the cricket are - and I kid you not this is the absolute truth, even I could not make this up - Mohammed, Mohammed and Mohammed, all who work the graveyard shift at a family owned 7-11 store nearby. Sometimes I go down there at 2am just to have a live conversation about cricket.

  • James on March 16, 2014, 4:58 GMT

    My apologies, Greatest-Game. Maybe I just haven't noticed the generous side of your spirit. :-) I just seem to recall a whole heap of other stuff. But maybe I'm mixing you up with somebody else out your way.

  • Sathesh Krishnan on March 15, 2014, 22:41 GMT

    Resounding victory for Aussies. They exposed the weakness of SA in all fronts and this is an eye opener for SA to revisit their strategies ahead of World T20. Australia look very formidable and they are one of the favourites leading into the tournament. As far as SA goes, they have pretty good power hitters but they lack tactics. Players like AB, Miller and A Morkel should bat high up the order and JP Duminy should be brought down the order. The batting order should be DeKock, Faf, AB, Miller, Morkel, JP Duminy, F Behardien, W Parnell, M Morkel, D Steyn, I Tahir. Thats the best line up they have got in the list of players available. Amla is not a T20 player and SA should move on. They should pack the side with more power hitters than conservative test players. The short format is all about power hitting and SA should learn that. Otherwise they cant proceed past league matches.

  • David on March 15, 2014, 17:49 GMT

    @ TheBigBoodha asked "...Can't you just occasionally say something that is generous or complimentary of another country's players or fans?"

    After the Newlands test I wrote this, "What an ending. Congratulations to Australia on a well deserved win, & to Ryan Harris for his final burst of intelligent, exceptionally well directed bowling."

    After the Asia cup I wrote this:"Congratulations to Sri Lanka on their win, & to both teams for providing all the world's fans a feast of exciting, adventurous and well played cricket."

    Responding to Ozcricketwriter's assertion that "Brad Haddin for most of his career has stunk" I wrote "You may underestimate Haddin's keeping. In the records of Dismissals per Innings ... for 4+ tests, Haddin currently is #10, one below Gilchrist."

    Is it not complimentary to defend an Aus player from criticism by an Aus fan?

    These are all posts "generous or complimentary of another country's players or fans?" I make them often! Perhaps you don't read them?

  • James on March 15, 2014, 15:50 GMT

    I have been quite optomistic about Australia's chances in the T20 WC, but foolishly hadn't even looked at the group draws. Now that i have, i'm not so sure. WI, IND, PAK, AUS in one group?? Those were my semi final teams. The other group is too easy i reckon. SA, ENG, NZ, SL of which SL and NZ are should take honours and book a spot in the semi's.

    The other group is anyone's game. The only saving grace i see is if PAK and WI fold early like they usually do outside of these competitions, however they have excellent T20 records. IND and AUS/PAK to make it through unless we bowl really well, we might need Johnson after all.

  • Zain on March 15, 2014, 14:03 GMT

    Well, If South Africa is the Best side 'Wapuser', Then i think you should have Lost fighting in the Test Match, Not to give it away. I Know that '1 or 2 Series do not Decide Supremacy', But gives a Little Disappointment Doesn it not? Thats what everyone Say. Hope you Bad Luck, Which is all you South Africans Deserve after your Pathetic Way of Losing. People can take Losing lessons From You :P

  • creebo on March 15, 2014, 12:33 GMT

    Just because smith kallis retired doesnt mean we"re done,steyn,amla,abdv still there,we"l be stronger if the selectors pick the right guys,dane piedt our spinner,van zyl opening batsman,miller at 6,de kock keeper,that team would be better then the one that was played under greame smith

  • Randolph on March 15, 2014, 12:06 GMT

    We are the best team in the world at the moment, in all formats. Look out for another period of dominance

  • Jon on March 15, 2014, 11:39 GMT

    @dunger.bob, I agree. Personally I think conditions play a bigger role in test matches than in T20 cricket. Also pretty much most of the Aus players have played in IPL so they don't hold the same fear that they maybe did in the 90's. India can't bowl so regardless of who they chuck in there it will be irrelevant. Despite what the genius, all encompassing and omniscient Cpt.Meanster will say Aus are a very good T20 side with guys that come in at 8/9 who can win a game. I say this as an Englishman but I hate guys that can't admit when another side looks good and in the process just look ridiculous. I think Aus would least like to face Pak in the knockout phases. Ajmal et al are very difficult for batsmen from Aus/ENG/SA/NZ

  • Richard on March 15, 2014, 10:30 GMT

    wapuser on (March 15, 2014, 9:06 GMT) - Yep. Just as we said. You can't back it up.

    I'll tell you why South Africa are not the best in the world at Tests: You just got beaten at home by the team ranked second. The very same rankings you speak of said we were number one - six months after Warne, McGrath and Gilchrist retired. What a load of rubbish. We accepted the stats were wrong, why can't you? India have played something like 19 games and we've played 31 or something, all things considered, how can you pick the best team out of that? How do we know South Africa or India won't lose their next 12 games in a row? Like the Oscars, it's subjective, yet what we know is you can't be number 1 anymore if you get beaten at home by the team ranked second especially since you don't play with 12 players anymore. Kallis was two players in one and he's gone.

    Excuse me, but can some one please tell me what evidence they have that the batsmen picked in the Australian squad can't play spin?

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