Images courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Warner and Hodge destroyed South Africa’s bowling attack
Australia opener David Warner smashed 40 runs and veteran batsman Brad Hodge hammered a quickfire 21 to lead their side to a five-wicket win over South Africa in a rain-affected Twenty20 International in Durban.
Following a lengthy delay due to the heavy rain, the match was cut down to seven overs a side and Australia captain George Bailey had no hesitation in choosing to bowl first.
His decision to do so seemed to pay off early on as South Africa opening batsman Hashim Amla was caught and bowled by Nathan Coulter-Nile for four runs.
However, from that point on it was all South Africa as Quinton de Kock and captain Faf du Plessis amassed an unbeaten 74-run partnership to lead the Proteas to 80/1 at the end of their seven overs.
De Kock finished on 41 off 20 balls, which included two boundaries and four sixes, while du Plessis remained undefeated on 27 off 13 deliveries, which included two boundaries and two sixes.
Coulter-Nile was the only bowler to take a wicket.
Chasing 81 to win, Australia got off to a poor start as opening batsman Aaron Finch was caught by Amla at midwicket off the bowling of Kyle Abbott for just five runs.
Shane Watson only made two runs before he was caught by Abbott off the bowling of Wayne Parnell.
Warner was definitely one of the standout performers for Australia as he walloped 40 runs off 16 balls, which included five boundaries and two sixes, before he was given out lbw off the bowling of Jean Paul (JP) Duminy.
Glenn Maxwell scored one run before he was caught by du Plessis at point off the bowling of Duminy.
Bailey failed to have an impact as well as he was run out by David Miller for two runs.
Just as things seemed to being going downhill for Australia, Hodge came to the rescue by blasting 21 runs off just eight deliveries, which included one boundary and two sixes, to lead the baggy greens home with two balls to spare.
Duminy was the pick of the bowlers with two wickets, while Abbott and Parnell chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Du Plessis was disappointed to have lost the match, and said: “Can’t look too much into a seven-over game. For them to get 18 -20 in the first over was a big boost for them. I didn’t know he [Hodge] could hit the ball that far. We didn’t expect to be playing tonight.”
Bailey was ecstatic to have taken a 1-0 lead, and said: “[The] Two biggest positives were our two old guys Hoggy and Hodgy. We knew it was going to be a short game so it was good to see our guys switched on. I think the crowd got their money’s worth.”
Hodge edged out Warner for the Man of the Match award, and said: “Thought the old guys did well tonight. Just wanted to clear our minds, they bowled well and we were waiting for an opportunity. Feel grateful to be able to play T20 around the world. Test cricket didn’t work out for me.”