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T20 World Cup 2021 Australia win last over thriller against South Africa

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It wasn’t pretty, but it was just enough.

Australia have snuck home with two balls to spare in their T20 World Cup opener, with Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade steering the side home.

Chasing a modest target of just 119 for victory, after restricting South Africa to 8-118, the top order once again faltered as Aaron Finch, David Warner and Shaun Marsh all departed within the first few overs.

As the cards were handed in half an hour before play, many were wondering if the Aussies would elect to move Smith up to first drop after the team’s disappointing warm-up to the tournament.

Despite former Test captain Ian Chappell’s calls for Smith to be elevated up the batting order, the former captain was initially named to bat number five – but came in ahead of Glenn Maxwell after two early wickets.

And when Marsh was dismissed for 11 and Australia 3-38, it looked like Smith and Maxwell would steer them safely to victory before two moments of madness, just minutes apart.

The first was more brilliance on the part of Aiden Markram than anything else, sprinting some 20 metres to make a diving catch to send Smith on his way, before one of Maxwell’s patented reverse sweeps was an unfortunate air swing, which resulted in a delivery from Tabraiz Shamsi crashing into his middle stump.

But that would be the last wicket Australia would lose, and thankfully, the unloseable chase proved just that.

Wade (15* off 10) and Stoinis (24* off 16) came to the crease just three balls apart, and it was the latter who provided the winning runs hitting a two and a four off the first two Dwaine Pretorius deliveries of the final over, before another boundary sealed the deal.

But while questions rightly remain over the make-up of Australia’s top order, selections at the other end of the team sheet were vindicated.

The team went with just one spinner for their opening match of the T20 World Cup against South Africa, leaving Ashton Agar out of the side.

With only room for four bowlers, Australia elected not to go with both Adam Zampa and Agar in a two spinner combination, and instead leaned on Maxwell to provide the other overs.

It was a move that paid off in spades as Maxwell got the opening wicket of the match, clean bowling Proteas skipper Temba Bavuma with just his third ball.

Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood and Zampa all snared two wickets apiece while Pat Cummins was the most economical of the quintet, finishing with 1-17 off his four overs.

Australia will play Sri Lanka on Friday morning in their second of five pool matches.

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