The Proteas were steamrolled for the second consecutive night at Kingsmead with Australia convincingly winning the T20I series on Friday.
Mitchell Marsh’s men have dominated this T20I series from the outset, starting with a record 111-run victory in the first match, and following it up with another eight-wicket thrashing.
Captain Aiden Markram’s 49 and an entertaining 17-ball 35 from former skipper Temba Bavuma were not enough to save the Proteas from a second successive heavy loss.
The stage was set for an epic encounter with Durban showing off last night with Kingsmead filled to capacity.
The fans were welcomed with good news when Cricket South Africa announced the availability of local star Keshav Maharaj after the spinner played his first competitive match in Pietermaritzburg against the Tuskers earlier this week.
Although Maharaj picked up 1/44 in 10 overs against the Tuskers, coach Rob Walter made only one change to Wednesday night’s starting XI despite the side’s 111-run loss in the opening fixture of the series.
Sisanda Magala and Wayne Parnell are recovering from injuries and were therefore not available for selection for the second T20I, while Marco Jansen was released from the squad to attend his sister’s wedding.
To start things off, Bavuma came out of his shell last night.
The former T20I captain displayed positive intent and swiftly put the visitors under pressure with a strike-rate of over 200 on his way to a 17-balls 35 runs.
Just when the Proteas seemed to be running away with the first phase of the match, Australia struck four times, dismissing Bavuma (35), Rassie van der Dussen (6), Reeza Hendricks (3) and Dewald Brevis (0) to leave the Proteas in all sorts of trouble with the score on 46/4 in the sixth over.
A 51-run stand between Markram and Tristan Stubbs followed and somewhat steadied the ship before Jason Behrendorff bowled Stubbs to bring Australia right back into the game.
Markram soldiered on with little assistance from his teammates but also fell one run shy off a tenth career half-century.
Looking at how quickly the Proteas lost their wickets, especially in the first powerplay, a total of 164/8 appeared decent enough to defend in Durban.
In reply, the Proteas captain took matters into his own hands, bowled the first over and conceded only a single before Lungi Ngidi came in steaming at the other end to concede just seven runs off the second over of the Australian innings to mark a good start for the home team.
Travis Head (18), Matthew Short (66) and Marsh had a totally different idea in mind.
Short and Marsh (76) put the Proteas bowlers to the sword with a 100 runs partnership after Lizaad Williams struck in his first over to dismiss Head.
From there on, the Australians had total control of the match and they chased down the target with 30 balls remaining. The third and last T20I is scheduled to take place tomorrow afternoon at Kingsmead Stadium.