Australia 226 for 6 (Marsh 92*, David 64, Williams 3-44) beat South Africa 115 (Hendricks 56, Sangha 4-31, Stoinis 3-18) by 111 runs
Matches between South Africa and Australia are as one-sided as this one only once in a blue moon; and the only one of 2023 hung over Kingsmead like a bad omen for the hosts. They returned to international action after almost five months, appeared undercooked with both bat and ball and were no match for an Australian XI that featured four debutants and a new captain. Australia registered their biggest margin of victory over South Africa to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series
, in his first game as Australia captain, led from the front with a career-best 92* off 49 balls to help Australia post their highest T20I score against South Africa, and sixth highest in the format.
Marsh set the match up well in the Powerplay alongside Matthew Short and then shared a 97-run fifth-wicket stand with Tim David
, off just 52 balls, to ensure Australia's total was insurmountable.
South Africa's attack was experimental and their inexperience in the absence of Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Keshav Maharaj, showed. They only used five bowlers in this match and all were expensive. Lungi Ngidi conceded at more than 12 runs per over and the lines and lengths of the entire attack were inconsistent.
Still, a good Kingsmead pitch meant the score was chaseable but South Africa were never in the hunt. They were 69 for 5 inside nine overs and could not recover from there, despite Reeza Hendricks
' seventh half-century in nine T20Is. Marcus Stoinis
impressed with the new ball and took 3 for 18 in three overs but the honours belonged to debutant legspinner, Tanveer Sangha
, whose middle-order strikes put the result beyond doubt.
Smashing Powerplay records
Before this match, Australia held the record for the highest T20I Powerplay score at Kingsmead and after it, they still hold it, albeit with a new one. The top four plundered 70 runs in the first six overs while South Africa's attack sprayed the ball all over the place. Travis Head got the boundary count going with a six over point off the second ball of the innings but was dismissed off the next ball; Marsh took 20 runs off Lungi Ngidi's first over and Matthew Short hit Marco Jansen onto the grass embankment. But the shot of the Powerplay was when Marsh struck a 93-metre six over the roof of the grandstand and onto Masabalala Yengwa Avenue. The ball could not be retrieved. Australia lost Short and Josh Inglis in successive overs, but that didn't stop them. David brought his big-hitting to the middle order and dispatched a second ball into the street, on his way to a 24-ball fifty.
Bavuma (the fielder) is back
His T20 batting form has been one of the biggest talking points of the last year but even before he had the opportunity to show what he can do in that department, he was called into action in the field. David was on 64 when he tried to slice Tabraiz Shamsi over the off side. Bavuma ran to his right from wide long-off, leapt to his right and judged the swirling ball well to take it over his head. Equally important, at time when grounding the ball before it was established as under control, Bavuma held on to it as he landed to end an innings from David that was threatening to take the total beyond South Africa.
But Bavuma the batter….
Not so much. Stoinis opened the bowling for the second time in his T20I career and even on a humidity-less Durban night found substantial swing. Hendricks left the first two balls alone and then drove the third through mid-on. The first ball Bavuma faced cut him in half as he lost balance when it straightened and the second seamed in, snuck through the bat-pad gap and bowled Bavuma for his third T20I duck in nine innings in the last 11 months. Stoinis enjoyed the wicket so much he chose to use his celebration to have a go at another South African, Lizaad Williams, who had Stoinis caught on the pull earlier. Williams celebrated with a salute and Stoinis replicated that to send Bavuma off.
Sangha scythes through South Africa
The 21-year old legspinner was not even due to play in this match but Adam Zampa's illness provided the opportunity and Sangha grabbed it with both hands. He was introduced into the attack immediately after the Powerplay and seemed to be bowling too short but with pressure on South Africa, captain Aiden Markram had to take him on. Makram tried to cut a wide delivery over point but Stoinis could not be kept out of the game and took a good overhead catch.
In his next over, fellow debutant Dewald Brevis tried to drive Sangha down the ground but found Sean Abbott on the boundary. Neither of those wickets were caused by the quality of the delivery, but rather the match situation but Sangha had more to say.
With his next ball, he drew Tristan Stubbs forward with a legbreak on offstump. The ball turned away and beat Stubbs, who was well out of his crease and Inglis did the rest to complete a classic legspinner's dismissal. And he didn't stop there. He bowled Marco Jansen with a wrong 'un to end his spell with 4 for 31, the second-best for an Australian on debut, conceding just two more runs than Michael Kasprowicz, who took 4 for 29 in the first T20I.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent for South Africa and women's cricket