DURBAN: South Africa beat Australia by three wickets in their first Twenty20 on Friday as David Miller hit a maiden half-century at the end to send the Proteas home in the last over.
Miller hit three sixes and three fours in his 53 not out and tailender Kyle Abbott collected the winning runs with a four over the bowler’s head with four deliveries to spare.
That took South Africa to 158-7 and past Australia’s 157-9. Two of Miller’s sixes called for a new ball as one went onto the roof of the stands, and another out of the ground itself.
Aaron Finch earlier made a blistering 40 from 18 balls for Australia and Mitchell Marsh contributed 35, but it wasn’t enough.
The victory continued South Africa’s upbeat preparations for the World Twenty20 starting this month in India. South Africa has now won five straight T20 games following recent series wins over India and then England.
Australia lost its fifth straight Twenty20 game after holding and then losing the upper hand twice against the South Africans at Kingsmead.
Finch’s knock at the top of the innings included three successive sixes over midwicket in a 24-run over from spinner JP Duminy. He gave Australia a rapid start, but David Warner (20) and Finch fell in the space of an over and Australia’s innings fizzled out, with six batsmen falling for just 45 runs.
Marsh provided a late boost, and was a danger to the crowd when he swatted a six down to square leg and the ball ricocheted off an advertising board and hit a spectator in the face. The fan was OK despite a badly bruised eye.
Nathan Coulter-Nile, Australia’s best bowler with 3-29, removed AB de Villiers to an outside edge first ball of the South African chase. Australia tightened its grip when Rilee Rossouw and captain Faf du Plessis (40) were out in successive balls, with South Africa left on 72-5.
Miller led the escape. He survived the loss of partners David Wiese and Chris Morris to reach his first T20 50 off 33 balls. Needing five off the last over against Andrew Tye, Miller took a single first ball and gave bowler Abbott the strike, with nerves flickering for South Africa.
But Abbott crashed a lofted drive straight down to mid-off for the winning runs.
Australia gave T20 debuts to wicketkeeper-batsman Peter Nevill and legspinner Adam Zampa, who returned 0-26. South Africa rested batsman Hashim Amla and chose not to play fast bowler Dale Steyn, who is back in the squad in time for the World Twenty20 after two months out with a right shoulder injury.