South Africa v Australia, 1st T20, Durban March 4, 2016

Miller's maiden T20I fifty takes SA to victory


South Africa 158 for 7 (Miller 53*, du Plessis 40, Coulter-Nile 3-29) beat Australia 157 for 9 (Finch 40, Tahir 3-21) by three wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Imran Tahir continued his impressive form with three wickets © Gallo Images

David Miller struck his first international fifty since February last year and his career-best T20I score to guide South Africa to the highest successful chase at Kingsmead and a lead in the three-match series against Australia. Miller's return to form came at an opportune time - South Africa were 95 for 6 in their reply and needed a lower-order surge to ensure their efforts with the ball were not wasted.

On a dry, cracked pitch, they pulled Australia back in an innings that was destined for over 200. Imran Tahir led the strangle to pull Australia back from 69 for 1 in the PowerPlay. South Africa took 6 for 45 between the sixth and 16th over and not even Mitchell Marsh's cameo at the end gave Australia enough to defend.

Neither side will be entirely happy with their batting performance but Australia will have cause to question their composition more. For the first time in T20I cricket, they chose to bat David Warner down the order and used Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja upfront and may reconsider that going forward.

Finch's aggression was obvious was from the start. He took on Kagiso Rabada in his opening two overs but South Africa regained some control when Rabada removed Usman Khawaja.

Instead of keeping Rabada on, du Plessis gave the ball to JP Duminy and Finch had a field day. He sent the first three balls for six over deep midwicket and the fourth delivery bounced just a few metres short of the deep cover rope. Duminy's over cost 24 runs and gave the early advantage to Australia.

Chris Morris did not fare too much better with an opening over of 15, as he veered between short and full and Warner used placement over power to cash in. David Wiese, who could have bowled with the fielding restrictions in place, was brought on immediately after they were lifted and had success by having Warner caught at backward point to stem the tide. Imran Tahir, who could also have bowled in that period if du Plessis felt he needed spin, came on in the next over and had Finch caught off a full toss to remove the biggest threat.

Tahir should have added Glenn Maxwell with the next ball but Quinton de Kock, who had taken over the keeping duties from AB de Villiers, spilled the catch. Maxwell lasted for long enough to see his captain, Steven Smith, scratch around and then edge Wiese to de Kock and then tried to hit Morris over cover but got a leading edge which du Plessis snaffled.

South Africa would have felt they were into the lower order with Peter Nevill, the specialist gloveman, at the crease and even more so when Tahir trapped him lbw and bowled John Hastings with a googly in his next over. Australia had tumbled to 114 for 7 and South Africa were in control.

Marsh struck the ball cleanly to ensure Morris' figures did not improve and even got stuck into Kyle Abbott. He finished with 35 off 25 balls when he fell in the final over to give Australia a fighting chance.

They were off to the perfect start when Nathan Coulter-Nile had AB de Villiers caught behind off the first ball of South Africa's reply. With Hashim Amla sitting out, South Africa seemed vulnerable, more so when Quinton de Kock misread the slower ball and offered Coulter-Nile a return catch.

Australia copied South Africa's approach and used their back-up spinner, Maxwell, in the PowerPlay and du Plessis tried to do as Finch did. He took 16 runs off Maxwell's over but South Africa were set back again when Duminy picked out midwicket. South Africa were 45 for 3 at the end of the PowerPlay.

Marsh and Adam Zampa kept South Africa quiet before Marsh removed Rilee Rossouw and next ball du Plessis was run-out, as Nevill completed a sharp piece of work after running round from behind the stumps, to leave South Africa 73 for 5 at the halfway stage with only the lower order to come.

Miller was the striker again when Wiese charged down for a single that was never on and it was left to Miller and Morris to win the game.

Both regard themselves as finishers. Morris has proved himself in the recent limited-overs matches against England, but it was Miller who took on the task of winning the match this time. He was particularly severe on Andrew Tye. His two sixes in Tye's third over brought South Africa's requirement down from 45 off 30 balls to 29 off 24.

Morris fell in the next over - Finch taking an excellent running catch - but Miller kept going. He sent Hastings through the covers and over deep square leg to leave just ten to get off the last two overs. Fittingly, Miller and his Dolphins team-mate Abbott were at the crease and after Miller brought up his fifty off 33 balls, Abbott hit the winning runs.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • David on March 6, 2016, 0:25 GMT

    @ankush0531 Happy to store those comments away for when the World Cup starts. Not as good as Zimbabwe and someone else said Bangladesh? Two teams that Australia has really struggled in all formats of the game to get on top of having won a miserly 55 out of 59 victories against these 2 countries.

  • Durga on March 5, 2016, 17:58 GMT

    which strint this aus team belongs to? 11 or 12!. stop counting strings, it is not important who r playing but how they r playing. Good win for SA and they will do well in IND.

  • Prahit on March 5, 2016, 13:56 GMT

    Everybody wrote us off against the Kiwis. Look what they got....DUST!! Matter of time before, we will crush SA

  • Prahit on March 5, 2016, 13:54 GMT

    South Africa shouldn't be excited after narrowly winning this game. Without Hazelwood, Starky etc., this is just 3rd string bowling line up. Wait before we crush you in world cup, mate

  • Channan on March 5, 2016, 13:07 GMT

    Forget this match. Australia has the firepower , fielding and bowling to win the world T20. We'll see, won't we.

  • Andries Bester on March 5, 2016, 11:43 GMT

    Well , I like cloas matches , ir is very entertaining

  • Bhumit on March 5, 2016, 11:43 GMT

    I am sure Australia wont even make through to the second round of W-20 cup!!!!

  • Jose on March 5, 2016, 11:18 GMT

    Even in T-20, individual Australian players are as good as any player from any other team. Warner, Finch, Watto, Marsh brothers, Maxi, Faulkner, Starc, Josh, Coulter Nile, .. the list is much longer. This was just a random pick, in a second's thought.

    It is the 'intent' and 'interest' which is lacking. Sadly, it is self-started and self-perpetuated. We should try to learn, to appreciate all formats. Each, in its own unique ways.

    Try. And, see the difference.

  •   Donovan Bolton on March 5, 2016, 10:45 GMT

    An international is an international, and any game against Australia is big. The Protea's did brilliantly - firstly to peg the Aussies back when they were batting and secondly to push through when we were something like 95/6 down. Yet another occasion where the South African mongrel is coming to the fore. I am very fortunate to be going to the Bull Ring tomorrow! Protea Fire.

  • Rahul on March 5, 2016, 10:33 GMT

    Jonty Rhodes said after the match that Australia lack a standout spinner, saying "(Adam) Zampa and (Glenn) Maxwell are a solid combination but I'm not sure they will ask enough questions of the top Indian batsmen for example". He's so right it's not funny. He talked about Nathan Lyon, but didn't mention Cameron Boyce.Of course, you wouldn't expect Jonty to know about Boyce, when apparently even the Australian selectors don't rate his ability, even after he bowled like a dream right in front of them against India.Boyce absolutely asked big questions of the Indian top order. He frequently deceived themIt continues to hurt my head that he's not in this squad. Also i am predicting big things in the remainng games from Smith and Khawaja, both are class players who will come good, for the world cup top 6 should be khawaja, watson, warner, smith, maxwell and Marsh

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