JOHANNESBURG: Australia chased down 204 in a thrilling last-ball victory over South Africa in the second Twenty20 international yesterday to level the three-game series at 1-1.
Australia’s chase was powered by a brilliant partnership of 161 between David Warner, who made 77 off 40 balls, and Glenn Maxwell, who got 75 off 43. The pair took Australia from 32-3 to 193-4.Maxwell fell in the penultimate over and Warner was out first ball of the last over, leaving new batsmen Mitchell Marsh and James Faulkner to get 11 off the final five balls to win.
Helped by two wides in that last over from Kagiso Rabada, the Australians scrambled home to 205-5, running two off the last delivery to clinch a victory that appeared way out of their reach at 32-3 in the sixth over.
Dale Steyn, on his return from a two-month injury layoff, took 2-32 to slow Australia in that early spell. Rabada also claimed two wickets (2-25), but his joy at bowling Warner with a yorker to start the last over quickly disappeared as he struggled right at the end. Marsh and Faulkner scrambled two -runs and singles – helped by the two extra balls – before Marsh lobbed the last ball down the ground and Faulkner sped back to the danger end to complete a second run, and send the series to a deciding game in Cape Town.
The rousing victory ended a run of five straight T20 defeats for Australia, just in time for the upcoming World Cup in India. Put in to bat by Australia at the Wanderers, a ground which is high-scoring and often good to chase on, South Africa posted a big score of 204-7. Captain Faf du Plessis top-scored with 79 off 41 balls, opener Quinton de Kock got 44 at the top of the innings, and David Miller hit a quick 33 off 18 in the middle order.
Faulkner, on his recall to the team, was Australia’s best bowler with 3-28. He also won the game with the bat. Warner and Maxwell came together with Australia well behind following the loss of Aaron Finch for two in the first over, Shane Watson for nine and captain Steven Smith for 19.
Even at the halfway stage of the innings, the Aussies still needed 12 an over for the last 10 overs. But Warner and Maxwell accelerated dramatically, with Warner eventually clattering five sixes and six fours. Maxwell clubbed seven fours and three over the ropes, including one that hit the top of the giant scoreboard at square leg and continued on its way out of the stadium. Their 161 came off only 79 balls.
They appeared to be taking Australia home before Chris Morris, who had taken some punishment, finally got Maxwell to mistime one in the second-last over and AB de Villiers took the catch at deep cover.
Warner was beaten by Rabada to open the last over, but Marsh and Faulkner kept their nerves as young fast bowler Rabada appeared to lose his. – AP