Kyle Abbott harried Australia’s batsmen and Rilee Rossouw achieved the rare feat of putting Quinton de Kock in the shade during a stand of 129 as South Africa secured a vast opening win in the Twenty20 match at Adelaide Oval.
Three days after they were comfortably beaten by a Cricket Australia Invitational XI in Sydney, the tourists combined impressively with ball and bat to deliver Australia’s third consecutive international defeat, albeit against two distinctly different teams in two vastly different formats on opposite sides of the globe.
The likes of David Warner, Mitchell Johnson and Glenn Maxwell were missed by the Australians, but it must also be acknowledged that Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers were among South Africa’s absentees. Abbott and Rossouw were highly capable substitutes, the former’s 3 for 21 and the latter’s 78 from 50 balls the most telling contributions for JP Duminy’s men.
Reeza Hendricks was out to a well-pitched delivery from Doug Bollinger in the first over of South Africa’s chase, but Rossouw and de Kock had very few difficulties in rattling towards the target and ensuring that by the time they departed the asking rate was negligible.
Australia’s only consolations were a pair of handy innings by Shane Watson and James Faulkner, while Pat Cummins and legspinner Cameron Boyce delivered decent-enough spells with the ball. Whether Boyce, missing out on two Sheffield Shield fixtures at a time when Australia’s need to develop a worthwhile wrist-spin option after their travails against Pakistan, should have been playing was another question.
The hosts had given T20I debuts to Ben Dunk and Nathan Reardon, their caps handed out by Michael Hussey. South Africa chose to name three debutants, the speedy 19-year-old Kagiso Rabada, Hendricks and Rossouw, who has played six ODIs in his international career so far.
Serving as the opener to Australia’s international season, the match was also the first full T20I, and the first international, to be played at the Adelaide Oval since its redevelopment was completed earlier this year. However the Wednesday night fixture did not attract a sell-out, a crowd of 26,370 leaving vast parts of the eastern and southern stands empty.
Finch and White walked out to bat on a fine surface, but struggled for timing and poise as Abbott and his cohorts bowled commendably tight lines. White was dropped by Imran Tahir at deep backward square leg in the first over, and Finch scratched out 14 before pushing Ryan McLaren’s first ball to short cover.
White was victim to a sharp catch at cover point by Farhaan Berhardien, who leapt to claim a well-struck forcing stroke. Dunk and Reardon each fell cheaply when trying to force the pace, and a restorative partnership between Watson and Faulkner was separated when the older allrounder was clasped on the very edge of the fielding circle by Duminy.
No boundaries were scored from the final 26 balls of the innings, underlining how well Abbott and South Africa had managed to restrict Australia. Even though Finch had seven bowlers to call on, 144 was never likely to be enough.
(Taken from ESPNcricinfo, by Daniel Brettig)