Record Warner-Maxwell stand helps Australia win thriller
Australia 205 for 5 (Warner 77, Maxwell 75) beat South Africa 204 for 7 (du Plessis 79, Faulkner 3-28) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A dramatic final over filled with fumbles in the field saw James Faulkner and Mitchell Marsh take Australia to a first T20 win in six matches and level the series at 1-1 with their highest successful chase. Australia had slipped to 32 for 3 in pursuit of 205 before David Warner and Glenn Maxwell posted a record fourth-wicket partnership of 161 but were both dismissed to set up a thrilling, last-ball finish.
Chris Morris had Maxwell caught on the cover boundary with the fifth ball of the penultimate over to leave Kagiso Rabada 11 to defend. Rabada started with a full straight delivery which Warner missed as he cleared the front leg to swing across the line, bowling him off his pad to put South Africa in the pound seat.
Then a message came from the dugout, which seemed to instruct Rabada to bowl outside off stump but he went too wide. The extra ball cost two runs as Faulkner drove down the ground and the boundary was saved. Rabada tried that line again but was again too wide and again the follow up went for two.
That left Australia needing five runs off the last three and Rabada refused to go wide again, keeping it full and straight. Faulkner drove down the ground again and pushed for a second. Mitchell Marsh would have been run out but the throw from Farhaan Behardien was limp. An inside edge for one from Faulkner left Marsh to hit the winning runs and he copied his partner by bunting the ball down the ground. David Miller swooped in but could not pick up cleanly and Marsh and Faulkner ran two to end Australia's losing streak.
The stand between Warner and Maxwell was Australia's highest in T20 for any wicket and came after South Africa made three early strikes that threatened to render the contest one-sided. Rabada bowled Aaron Finch with a pinpoint yorker in the first over, then took a spectacular one-handed catch at third man to give the returning Dale Steyn his first wicket of 2016, that of Steven Smith. Unlike Rabada, Steyn held his length back and a second short ball in his second over had Shane Watson, who looked scratchy for the half-hour he was at he crease, smartly caught by JP Duminy, over his shoulder at point.
Warner took on the short ball while Maxwell targeted David Wiese, who soon lost his lines. Wiese started off bowling length, then went full and then short. Even though everything he did was punished, Faf du Plessis kept him on while using Imran Tahir at the other end.
Instead of allowing the spinner to control proceedings, as Australia have been doing over the last few games, Warner was aggressive against Tahir, who finished with 0 for 47. He threw his hands at Tahir, opting for brute force over finesse and succeeded. Every boundary scored off Tahir's bowling - three fours and three sixes - was scored by Warner, while Maxwell meted out similar punishment to Wiese. Maxwell plundered five fours and three sixes off Wiese, who finished with the most expensive figures of his 16-match T20I career.
By the time Steyn came back on, Australia were well set on 150 for 3 and needed 55 runs off the last five overs. Steyn's third over gave them 10 of those runs. Without Kyle Abbott to turn to, du Plessis called on Morris, whose third over cost 16 and included two wides and a no-ball. Steyn pulled it back a touch with a final over of 10 to leave Morris and Rabada with 18 to defend off the last two.
Morris bowled an impressive last over, in which he gave away seven runs and took the wicket of Maxwell, who holed out in a rush to end things, and Rabada would have been confident of the 11 runs at his disposal in the last over.
Bar the extras, he would have been successful in defending it. Instead, South Africa were left to rue an untidy performance in the field - they bowled eight wides and two no-balls - and wonder if they could have got a few more runs with the bat.
Their innings seemed set for a score well over 200 even though they lost AB de Villiers early. Quinton de Kock and du Plessis put on 62 for the second wicket, scoring at more than 10 an over, but just as de Kock was getting going he inside-edged a Faulkner full toss on to his stumps.
That gave Australia the opportunity to pull South Africa back and they did. JP Duminy made just 14 before David Miller, the hero of the Durban victory, realised it was time to accelerate and took 20 runs off the 15th over, bowled by the debutant Ashton Agar, which included sending the ball into the crowd twice. But then he found long off to give Agar his first T20I wicket.
Faulkner bowled astutely, finishing with 3 for 28 on his return from injury, and with Behardien and Morris unable to get going, du Plessis was left to go it alone at the end. He had worked his way to 41 off 30 balls, thanks largely to piercing the gaps in the Powerplay but with three overs left, had to look for more.
He found the boundary twice off Josh Hazlewood's last over to bring up fifty off 33 balls, hit Faulkner for six in the 19th and then helped take 26 of the last over, bowled by John Hastings, which included a sequence of 4-6-6-4. South Africa had scored 51 runs in the last three overs, which included Wiese six off the last ball that tipped them over 200, but it proved not to be enough.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent