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Aaron Finch, Australia's T20 captain, said his side were beaten in all three disciplines of the game by South Africa in their seven-wicket defeat at Adelaide Oval, and said the top order should have taken more responsibility while batting first on a good track.
Australia went in with a squad that involved no players who were in the Test series against Pakistan in the UAE that ended on Monday. That will change for the remaining two Twenty20s, with Glenn Maxwell* bolstering the new-look side. The allrounder, who returned from the UAE on Wednesday, will add experience to a middle order that featured two debutants in the first T20.
Australia scored just 144 for 6 in their 20 overs after winning the toss and the line-up, with the exception of Shane Watson and James Faulkner, failed to carry on and build an innings.
"I think the onus goes on top of the order, myself and Cam, and I got out, which was disappointing," Finch said. "That didn't allow our middle order to play how we know they can. They had to hold back a little bit and their spinners bowled well. When you've got two guys coming in at No. 4 and 5 on debut, in a pressure situation, I think they summed up the conditions pretty well. I thought the way Jimmy Faulkner finished off the innings as well was pretty terrific."
According to Finch, the top-order stutter also affected Watson's innings because the allrounder did not have adequate support through the middle overs. Watson, playing his first international game since April this year, top-scored with 47 and his 57-run stand with James Faulkner helped steady Australia, but his departure in the 18th over allowed South Africa to control the last few overs.
"For a guy coming back for the second or third hit after quite a long layoff, I thought he was outstanding," Finch said. "He hit the ball in the middle of the bat, played the way we know how he can play, took the game on. We've seen in this format of the game, and one-day cricket and Test cricket at times, he's just so dangerous and so damaging. It was just unlucky we didn't have somebody through that middle path who could really go with him and take it to the opposition. He sort of, had to keep waiting and waiting for the right time. That was unfortunate, but I thought he played beautifully."
Finch also defended his decision to hold Pat Cummins and Kane Richardson back by giving them one over each in the first half of the game, while opting to bowl three of Doug Bollinger's overs upfront. Bollinger dismissed debutant Reeza Hendricks in the first over of the match and almost had the wicket of Rilee Rossouw in the next one. However, Rossouw made the most of the dropped chance and smacked 14 runs off Bollinger's third over, helping South Africa bounce back quickly.
"I don't think so. I reckon when you've only got 140 on the board, you have to keep experimenting a little bit," he said. "I think Dougie bowled exceptionally at the start, he created two chances in the first two overs, so when you've got an asset like that, I thought it was the right move to bowl him a third and really press for a wicket but it wasn't to be.
"Looking back, we just didn't score enough runs. If you get 160 on the board and you get a couple of quiet overs at the start, you can put a lot more pressure on them. All of a sudden the rate goes up to 8.5, 9 really quick. But when you've got just 140, it still hovers around that seven mark and you don't really have to take too many risks."
Australia's Test squad returned from UAE on Wednesday and with the next games in the series on November 7 and 9, Finch was unsure of whether there would be changes to the side. He admitted, however, that Australia had missed a player like Glenn Maxwell, who could have made a difference as an offspinner given the number of left-hand batsmen in the South African side.
"I think there'll probably be one or two changes. I haven't spoken to anyone, but I think there are a few quality players on the sidelines as well," he said. "So we'll have to look at getting them in, if it's the right make-up.
"If Maxi's available, I'm not exactly sure of the situation at the moment, but we've seen how good he is in the shortest format of the game and he also gives us another option with the ball, with so many left-handers in their side, he was probably the type of player we could have done with tonight - an offspin allrounder, who can pinch an over here and there. I think we had the right side to win the game but we just weren't good enough. They out-batted us, and I thought their skills with the ball were excellent and they were unbelievable in the field. Just the way they moved around was pretty special to watch from the sidelines."
November 6, 2014: 4.30am GMT This story has been updated with news of Glenn Maxwell being added to Australia's T20 squad