David Warner and Glenn Maxwell shared a match-winning 161-run partnership as Australia levelled the series 1-1, beating South Africa by five wickets at the Wanderers on Sunday.
Any team would feel comfortable defending more than 200 in 20 overs, but Australia produced a superior batting performance to reach their target of 205 for the loss of five wickets.
They were aided by some terrible bowling from South Africa at times as they conceded 14 extras, but the real sin was bowling way too many full tosses.
Despite looking like they were going to cruise to victory, the game went down to the final over.
Needing 18 runs to win from the last two overs, Chris Morris did well in conceding just seven, although he did miss a great chance to run-out Warner (77 from 40), who was desperate to keep the strike. He set off for a risky run and Mitchell Marsh, the new man at the crease, was never going to make it.
However, instead of picking the ball up and running towards the striker’s end, Morris attempted an under-arm throw from the middle of the pitch which missed the stumps.
It was left to Kagiso Rabada to try and pull off something spectacular in the final over, and he almost did.
Needing 11 from six, Rabada bowled Warner with the first ball as the batsman tried to free himself up for a big shot. Fired up, Rabada followed it up with a wide, two runs and another wide. Australia ran four runs from the next two balls and needed three from the last two deliveries.
A single was taken from the fifth ball, before Marsh hit the last ball down the ground, where a slight misfield allowed Australia to run the two runs they needed to win the game.
It was a tense finish, but for a while it looked like Warner and Maxwell would take them home. They shared a record 161-run partnership for the fourth wicket, which got their team out of a hole after stumbling to 32-3.
Warner’s fifty came off 25 balls and Maxwell, who played some breathtaking shots all around the ground, took 26 balls to reach his with a massive six out of the ground.
Their 100-partnership was scored off 54 deliveries.
The repair job Warner and Maxwell did was evident by the fact that Australia scored just 28 runs in the first five overs, 60 in the next five and 62 runs between overs 11 and 15.
South Africa’s bowlers weren’t disciplined enough and they were always going to struggle once Imran Tahir, usually so reliable in this format, conceded 47 runs in his four overs. David Wiese also had an afternoon to forget as his four overs leaked 58 runs.
The Proteas had earlier managed to reach 204-7 after they smashed 26 runs from their last over. Faf du Plessis (79 off 41) held their innings together beautifully.
The regular fall of wickets in the middle overs threatened to derail South Africa’s innings and prevent them from setting an imposing target for the Aussies to chase. However, Du Plessis smashed 20 runs (4, 6, 6, 4) from the first four balls of the the final over to take his team to the brink of the 200-mark.
He lost his wicket off the fifth ball, caught in the deep by Maxwell, before Wiese hit the last ball for a massive six to take the score to 204.
The top order all got starts, but only Du Plessis and Quinton de Kock (44 off 28) did any real damage up front as they shared a 62-run partnership as South Africa scored at 10 an over during the powerplay.
AB de Villiers fell early for 13 after getting an inside edge on to his stumps off the bowling of John Hastings. De Kock took the attack to Australia with a string of boundaries, but got bowled with a dipping full-toss from James Faulkner.
JP Duminy didn’t hang around too long, but David Miller continued where he left off on Friday with another big hitting display with 33 from 18. Farhaan Behardien and Chris Morris both fell for three trying to go big before Du Plessis and Wiese ensured a strong finish on a good batting track.