Proteas star Aiden Markram was South Africa’s best batsman and took a spectacular catch against Australia in their T20 World Cup opener. Picture: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters
Proteas star Aiden Markram was South Africa’s best batsman and took a spectacular catch against Australia in their T20 World Cup opener. Picture: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters

Bowlers can’t save Proteas after poor batting in T20 World Cup opener against Australia

By Zaahier Adams Time of article published Oct 23, 2021

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South Africa: 118/9 (Markram 40, Hazlewood 2/19, Zampa 2/21)

Australia: 121/5 (Smith 35, Stoinis 24*, Nortje 2/21)

Australia won by 5 wickets

Abu Dhabi - Twenty20 cricket may be sold as the format that's loaded with bucketful of runs, but there is nothing like a low-scoring thriller to keep everyone on their edge of their seats.

And that’s exactly what South Africa and Australia delivered in another installment of their long-standing rivalry here at the ICC T20 World Cup.

ALSO READ: Australia win the toss but Proteas embrace underdog tag in T20 World Cup opener

Ultimately, though, it was the Aussies that sneaked over the line with balls to spare.

Dwaine Pretorius had eight runs to defend in the final over, but Marcos Stoinis held his nerve with a boundary off the second ball to ease the pressure before crushing another with two balls remaining to the delight of the Aussie dugout.

ALSO READ: From Langa to the Emirates ... Temba Bavuma carries a nation’s hopes and dreams

Temba Bavuma had admitted on the eve of the Proteas' T20 World Cup opener that his team were suffering from some "butterflies" in their stomachs.

The nerves were certainly evident in their batting display as Australia's bowling unit scorched through them here in the searing mid-day Abu Dhabi heat. Bavuma had begun the innings in such spelndid fashion with two delightful boundaries off Mitchell Starc's first over, but that was unfortunately a mirage in the desert as South Africa limped to 118/9.

The extent of South Africa's struggles with the bat was exemplified by the fact that they struck their first six of the innings only in the 17th over when Aiden Markram cleared the mid-wicket boundary.

ALSO READ: Boost for Proteas as spin trump card Tabraiz Shamsi ready for T20 World Cup opener

Markram (40 off 36 balls, 3x4, 1x6) played a lone hand as he watched wickets tumble on a regular basis at the other end as South Africa's batters failed to deal with the seam movement from the Australian pacemen initially before succumbing to the slow poison of the spinners.

The wickets were shared evenly with Adam Zampa (2/21), Starc (2/32) and last week's Indian Premier League winner with the Chennai Super Kings Josh Hazlewood (2/19) all bagging a couple.

Australia's pursuit begun in a similar stuttering fashion with Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada giving the Proteas the belief they could stage a miraculous comeback with the ball by removing both openers Aaron Finch (0) and David Warner (14) within the first PowerPlay.

The scores were virtually identical after the close of the Power Play overs with Australia just edging it at 28/2 compared to South Africa's 29/3.

It quickly became three when Keshav Maharaj had Mitchell Marsh caught in the deep a couple of overs later.

Anrich Nortje bowled well upfront for the Proteas. Picture: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters

Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell, though, combined for a 32-run partnership that seemingly set Australia on their way, but when they departed within one run of each other to Nortje and Tabraiz Shamsi respectively, the stage was set for a grand finish.

However, Bavuma had gambled with giving Rabada an extra over earlier - which paid dividends with the wicket of Warner - but that meant Pretorius had to finish off the innings.

Stoinis was having none of it and the Aussies now march on while South Africa have precious little time to rectify their mistakes before facing the defending champions West Indies on Tuesday.

@ZaahierAdams

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