Tahir, Miller take SA to victory over Oz


Spinner Imran Tahir took three wickets in four economical overs and David Miller scored an unbeaten fifty to guide South Africa to a three-wicket victory against Australia in the first of three T20Is in Durban on Friday.

While Tahir was the star with the ball, Miller (53 off 35 alls) was the star of the show with the bat as he rescued the Proteas from a flailing 72 for five to chase down their target of 158 under lights at a packed to capacity Kingsmead.

Opening batsman Aaron Finch (40 off 18 deliveries) got the visitors off to a flying start that included three consecutive sixes off the hapless JP Duminy, the offspinner bowling one over for 24.

Tahir soon put an end to Finch's knock that threatened to take the game away from the hosts and a collapse that saw all bowlers except Duminy among the wickets dampened Australia's expectations of a big score.

All-rounder Mitchell Marsh (35 from 25 balls) kept the scoring up, however, even as wickets continued to tumble and the Aussies got themselves up to a par score of 157 for nine on a dry and dusty Durban surface.

Aside from Duminy and his one appalling over, the Proteas' bowlers were rewarded with handsome figures. Tahir (three for 21) was the pick of the bunch and medium -pacer David Wiese (two for 16) conceded only four runs an over and put his hand up for a place in the starting XI at the imminent World T20 in India.

Fast bowler Dale Steyn was widely expected to play after he has been sidelined all summer with a shoulder injury but it was decided that the Wanderers on Sunday would offer him a better hunting ground for his much anticipated comeback.

On a side note batsman Hashim Amla sat the game out, despite his phenomenal innings during his last outing at the Wanderers against England.

Captain Faf du Plessis is on record as saying that he has a strategy that was developed two years ago and he isn't about to change it a week before a World Cup but it is particularly hard to understand.

Can Quinton De Kock not bat down the order to make space for Amla? Is Duminy a better player? The mind boggles.

AB de Villiers (0) nicked off to Coulter-Nile off the first ball of the chase and De Kock (7) was caught and bowled not long after when he skied an edge off the same bowler.

Du Plessies (40) steadied the ship but Duminy (5) and Riley Rossouw (19) fell around him.

When the skipper himself was run out not long after, it seemed the game was up but as is so often the case in T20 cricket it just takes a spot of brilliance to swing any game around and this evening the talisman whose half century would have removed a Damacleon sword that has been suspended above his head for so long – for when I asked the press box when Miller last scored runs, no answer came for it has been so long.

Miller soaked up the pressure and then unleashed his anger as he pelted three fours and three sixes and managed to not run out of partners. He was deservedly named Man of the Match for his efforts.

Australia have now lost five straight T20Is (including three at home against India). It's hard to read too much into T20 cricket form but the South African camp will thoroughly be enjoying their recent change in fortunes.

Nick Sadleir at Kingsmead