ICC T20 World Cup 2021: Australia beat South Africa in low-scoring contest

Marcus Stoinis (left) and Matthew Wade
Marcus Stoinis (left) and Matthew Wade took Australia past the finish line in a low-scoring tournament opener on Saturday

Australia recorded a victory by 5 wickets against South Africa in a narrow finish to a low-scoring contest in the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 Match No 13, played at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed International Cricket Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Chasing 119 to win, Australia had to go through some nervous moments towards the end of their innings as South Africa produced a remarkable fightback but could not prevent a defeat, paying the price for putting up a small total on board.

Aiden Markram top scored for South Africa with 40 (36 balls, 3x4s, 1x6s) as Australian bowlers produced a fine performance. led by their right-arm fast bowler Josh Hazlewood. The lanky fast bowler, who returned with figures of 4-1-19-2, was named the Man of the Match for his effort whereas all-rounder Glenn Maxwell took 1/24 from his 4 overs, and the pair of Adam Zampa and Mitchell Starc claimed 2/21 and 2/32 respectively.

Australian bowlers set up the game for their batsmen to capitalise on after restricting South Africa to a low total of 118/9 in their 20 overs. South Africa captain Temba Bavuma was dismissed for 12, wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock made 7, and the Proteas batting mainstay Rassie van der Dussen made 2 which put a lot of pressure on their middle-order.

Hazlewood accounted for the likes of de Kock and van der Dussen whereas Zampa removed David Miller (16) and Dwaine Pretorius for 1. Starc chipped in with the wickets of Markram and Anrich Nortje (2), whereas Maxwell had accounted for the South African skipper Bavuma earlier in the innings. 

Australia were off to a shaky start themselves when their captain Aaron Finch was removed for a five-ball duck by Nortje early on, and the other opener David Warner could not manage more than 14 from 15 balls, for which he hit three boundaries. The No 3 batsman Mitchell Marsh fell for 11, but the senior and experienced pair of Steve Smith and Maxwell provided the Australians with a lot of stability in the middle with a 42-run stand for the fourth wicket. 

Smith top scored for Australia with a 34-ball 35 on what looked like a sluggish wicket in Abu Dhabi, as the Australian batsmen struggled to send the ball to the boundary ropes. Maxwell made 21-ball 18 with the help of only one hit to the fence.

Both Smith and Maxwell fell in quick succession which reduced Australia from 80/3 to 81/5 at one stage, leaving the job of finishing the game to the likes of Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade. The pair of Stoinis and Wade did have their struggles finding quick runs, but they did not disappoint while adding the remaining runs to take Australia past the finish line in a nervous finish. Stoinis remained unbeaten on 24 from 16 balls with three boundaries whereas Wade struck through crucial fourth towards the end to make a 10 ball 15 not out. 

Australia will next face Sri Lanka on October 28 at Dubai, whereas South Africa will take on the defending champions West Indies on October 26 at the same venue.