Australia beat South Africa by five wickets in their first game of the ICC T20 World Cup 2021.
The Kangaroos chased the 119-run target in 19.4 overs in their first Super 12 group game.
Aiden Markram was the sole troublemaker for the Australians.
He starred with the bat, scoring the most runs (40) on either side.
However, lack of support from the other end meant that the Proteas would end up with a below-par score.
Hazlewood rattles Proteas
Josh Hazlewood bagged the Man of the Match award for his 2/19.
His early strikes were enough for Aaron Finch’s men to push the South Africa batsmen on the backfoot.
Hazlewood was quick to claim Quinton de Kock and in-form Rassie van der Dussen’s wickets.
The Aussie pacer looked in fine touch as he was playing at Sheikh Zayed Stadium where he recently represented Chennai Super Kings often in the Indian Premier League 2021.
In the post-game interview, the tall right-arm quick explained how he targeted good length to keep the SA batters in check.
“I think the length was the key, hitting the right length, just on top of the stumps. Anything slightly short or fuller seemed easy, so the length was key,” he said.
Hazlewood felt that the pitch was tricky to bat on, as the Australian batters too found it hard to hit boundaries swiftly.
“The wicket seemed reasonably good, but it was a little bit stoppy, a little bit slow. It plays that way during the day and gets easier at night,” the MOTM winner said.
“We’ve got a number of all-rounders there and Maxi was the man today to bowl the four. It sort of got close in the end but we’ve got finishers and we were confident in them.”
Australia skipper Finch was delighted to see Hazlewood turn up with an A-game right when the team needed it.
“Ideally I would have been able to push him for a third in the powerplay (Hazlewood), he’s a world-class bowler in any form of the game,” the captain said.
“People say that’s easy in this format but when you get it right on a pitch with variation, it can get tough.”
Anrich Nortje registers double strike
Nortje did everything he can, but the target was too small to handle for the entire Proteas pace cartel.
He dismissed Aaron Finch on a duck and Steve Smith (35) when the latter was looking settled on the pitch.
His pace looked to trouble the Australians in the opening spell, especially with an extra bit of bounce that left Mitchell Marsh surprised at times.
The right-arm pacer clocked 145km/h plus with ease consecutively.
His 2/21 shows that his recent venture in the UAE with Delhi Capitals is coming to fruition in the T20 World Cup.
Even SA skipper Bavuma hailed his bowlers for dragging the game to the last over before Stoinis and Wade took it away with boundaries.
“We want to talk about us being resilient, big effort to the guys getting it to the last over,” Bavuma said.
“With the bat – that was definitely not according to plan. Good effort to the bowlers to get it to that stage.”
Australia 121 for 5 (Smith 35, Stoinis 24*, Nortje 2-21) beat South Africa 117 for 9 (Markram 40, Hazlewood 2-19, Zampa 2-21) by five wickets.