Australia v South Africa: 2nd T20 International

Once the think tank of Australia sits down on the table after this match, there are three points that would stand out

1) After winning the first T20 International game ever and then proceeding to lose the very next game, comprehensively. From that day on till today, Australia has neither got a stable game plan nor have they got the winning culture that they have in the other two formats

2) As much as they would deny it, the ghosts of that game in Johannesburg still remain and comes back to haunt them from time to time, when they play South Africa. Notably, in throwing away winning causes

3) Shane Watson is central to their fortunes in all the formats of the game. When it comes to Limited overs it is his bowling that stands as a differentiator between the teams

 

At the toss, White was asked if it was individual efforts that counted in the T20 games or the team effort. His answer was “In this format, individuals can win you the match in a ball or two. When it boils down to tight situations, it is the team effort that counts, whatever that means.” Though it sounded confusing, the words held a lot of value after Theron hit the winning six

 

It was Theron’s arrival at the crease that heralded big shots. Once Theron got the confidence going, Parnell to joined in the fun as he took apart O’Keefe. Things didn’t seem as easy for the Proteas in the first 14 overs of the game

 

Tsotsobe started the match in the best possible way for South Africa- by tying down Warner. Warner would have realised that form counts for nothing. He came into this series with two consecutive centuries behind him but failed to get off the mark in both the games. Law of averages as they say

 

Till Parnell came on to bowl, Australia found it tough to force the ball of the square and their run-rate was a pathetic 3.4 runs/over at the end of the fifth over. It was Shaun Marsh that started to get things moving as he flicked one to the fine-leg boundary and cut one over covers for a six. He found the going tough against Botha as he was not given the room to go inside out and the pace did not allow him to adjust late. He compensated for that by feasting on Parnell again as he drove one past covers and then played a beautiful lofted drive

 

That aggression was not to be sustained as Marsh was dismissed by the returning Theron. Once Hussey was dismissed, the initial gameplan of Australia to keep the wickets for the end and attack towards the end also failed. With the dismissals of Smith and White, it seemed that Australia would be atleast 80 runs short of the par 200 suggested by the curator

 

T20 is a game of momentum and debutant Mitchell Marsh ensured that it was in Australia’s hands going into the break. The way he dealt with Parnell and Morkel was refreshing. He picked their lengths early and was in position for every shot that he hit. The 35 runs of these final two overs could have made a lot of difference in the final analysis

 

Theron and Parnell ensured that going into the final overs they would eclipse the hard hitting efforts of Marsh. It was an error of judgement by White that he did not have either Bollinger or Pattinson to bowl one of the final four overs. That two overs were to be bowled by either of the two spinners or Marsh made the task easier for the pair

 

Once they attacked O’Keefe, the shoulders started to droop which was evident in Cummins bowling the wides in the penultimate over and the frenetic field changes by White. It was here that Watson’s absence was felt the most. With him in the team, it was him who would have bowled at the death

 

South Africa have headaches of their own as in the absence of Kallis and de Villiers, the middle order is virtually non existent. Though Tsotsobe showed the way to bowl on the pitch, Parnell could not quite grasp it as he went wide or short most of the time. Morkel had a good time on the field till the final over when he was taken to the task by Mitchell Marsh

 

In the absence of Watson, Theron finally found his groove and got back to his parsimonious ways at the death. Even Amla erred in sending Botha up the order. Though Botha and Miller seemed to have the chase in control, they both fell to ambitious strokes at crucial junctures of the match. If not for the partnership between Parnell and Theron, it would be them having all the round table meetings heading into the ODI series

 

Though Australia seemed to have unearthed a couple of individual talents in the series, they have quite some way to cover in becoming a force at T20

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