Australia down SA to claim T20 series

10 March 2016

Amla's unbeaten 97 not enough for Proteas as tourists achieve record run chase at Newlands

Qantas T20 Tour of South Africa 2016, Third T20


The match in a tweet: Australia clinch the series 2-1 with a clinical run chase, tracking down 179 to win by six wickets with four balls to spare

The hero: It's not often a bowler who goes wicketless is the best in the match, but Adam Zampa's 0-23 from four overs restricted the hosts from setting a monstrous total as they did at the Wanderers. Zampa bowled flat and fast into the dry Newlands wicket, offering no room for the aggressive Proteas batsmen to swing freely. When he did toss it up we got a glimpse of a top-spinner which gripped and bounced, a variation that will come in extremely handy in India. The 23-year-old should have had a maiden T20 international wicket, but the normally safe-as-houses Glenn Maxwell put down a sitter on the boundary.

WATCH: Khawaja lauds all-round contribution

The support cast: It was an all-round effort by the Australians. Nathan Coulter-Nile picked up two wickets, Shane Watson scored 42 opening the batting alongside Usman Khawaja who made 33, Steve Smith produced his best innings of the tour with 44, while David Warner is making a habit of starring at No.4, finishing the series with a composed 33 before he was run out going for a suicidal second run with victory in sight. Maxwell put the icing on the cake, hitting 19no off 10 balls to put the result beyond doubt.

WATCH: Australia's batsmen fire in clinical chase

The consolation effort: Replacing AB de Villiers at the top of the order, the pressure was on Hashim Amla to perform. And perform he did. Amla was sensational, batting through South Africa's innings to record his highest T20 international score and fall just three runs short of a maiden century. The wristy right-hander was savage on anything near his body, whipping and flicking straight balls to the leg-side boundary or over it. Needing 16 off the final over for three figures, Amla blasted a six off the first ball by James Faulkner, but a single turned the strike over to David Miller for the next four balls. When he got back on strike, the century was out of reach, but the elegant stroke player powered a maximum off the last delivery to walk off to a standing ovation.

WATCH: Amla posts career-best knock

The intruder: Cricket can have the occasional streaker, generally an intoxicated bloke completing a dare and getting hauled off the playing field by a troop of security guards. But on Wednesday, Newlands had a different kind of intruder, one much more elusive than a drunk galloping buffoon. A local squirrel bounded onto the outfield and stayed there for the entirety of South Africa's innings, avoiding security, negotiators and thankfully the ball that on more than one occasion zoomed past within feet. The presence of the rogue rodent caused a lengthy delay between the first and second over, but no harm was done to the animal or the players.

WATCH: Rogue squirrel causes chaos

The déjà vu: Shane Watson had a huge slice of luck in the ninth over, dropped by a sprawling Faf du Plessis at short cover after the allrounder went for a booming drive to a looping Imran Tahir leg-spinner wide outside off-stump. It was déjà vu next ball, Tahir against tossing it up, Watson again going for the big aerial drive and again miscuing, only this time du Plessis made no mistake and held onto the opportunity.

WATCH: Their batters made it look easy: du Plessis

The stat: Australia's measured run chase - they hit their target with four balls to spare and always looked on track - was a record at Cape Town's picturesque Newlands ground. 

The wash-up: There's no time to celebrate for the Australians who fly to Kolkata via Dubai first thing the following morning, while South Africa make their way to the subcontinent later the same day. While Australia's best XI is looking closer to being finalised, there are still questions marks hovering over the Proteas, namely their opening combination and the make-up of their bowling attack.

WATCH: Plenty of positives for Proteas; Domingo