In a stunning exhibition of power hitting and smart cricket, newly chosen captain Mitchell Marsh led an awe-inspiring Australian batting performance that resulted in a decisive 111-run victory over South Africa in the inaugural T20 International (T20I) on Wednesday at Kingsmead.
Marsh's stunning T20 career-best innings, in which he remained unbeaten at an explosive 92 runs off just 49 balls, was clearly the highlight of the evening. Australia batted first and produced a commanding score of 226 for six. South Africa's opening batter Reeza Hendricks fought courageously, contributing 56 runs, but the home team was bowled out for 115 runs.
Tanveer Sangha, a debutant leg-spinner who was pulled in at the last minute owing to Adam Zampa's illness, was a highlight in the match. Sangha's outstanding performance saw him take four wickets for 31 runs.
"He's a fantastic young talent," Marsh said of Sangha's contribution to the team's victory.
Both clubs were missing major players, setting the setup for a duel that would put their roster depth to the test. Australia, on the other hand, came out firing, as seen by Marsh's scorching onslaught in which he scored 20 runs off Lungi Ngidi's second over.
Australia's batting lineup demonstrated perseverance and togetherness, as new cap Matt Short (20) and Tim David (64), alongside Marsh, established partnerships of 63 runs off 26 balls for the second wicket and an astounding 97 runs off 50 deliveries for the fifth wicket.
Marsh said of the partnership, "I thought Tim was fantastic." It was a fantastic partnership."
Both Marsh and David frequently sent the ball soaring beyond the boundaries, even reaching the road beyond Kingsmead's famed old main stand on the leg side.
South Africa's victory required a record-breaking second-innings chase, which looked increasingly impossible when Marcus Stoinis bowled Temba Bavuma in the first over, conceding only one run.
"It's been a while since we last played, and it showed tonight," South African skipper Aiden Markram admitted, stressing his team's rustiness.
Australia has set the tone for the T20I series with this dominant victory. Cricket fans may look forward to the next two matches, which will take place in Durban on Friday and Sunday. All eyes will be on whether South Africa can create a comeback and threaten Australia's dominance in the upcoming rounds as the struggle for supremacy heats up.