February 27, 2020 10:02:36 am
David Warner returned to the scene of the scandal and played a central role in a victory this time as Australia beat South Africa by 97 runs in the final Twenty20 to clinch the series 2-1 on Wednesday.
The last time Warner was at Newlands he instigated one of the biggest embarrassments in Australian cricket history with a ball-tampering plot in a test against South Africa in March 2018.
Warner’s contribution in this game was to top score for the Aussies with 57 off 37 balls to set up a total of 193-5.
South Africa didn’t come close.
Mitchell Starc blasted out captain Quinton de Kock (5) and former skipper Faf du Plessis (5) in the first and third overs of the chase. The quick bowler finished it with Kagiso Rabada’s wicket and South Africa was all out for 96 in 15.3 overs for a formidable victory for the Australians.
In between Starc’s early and late strikes, spinners Ashton Agar (3-16) and Adam Zampa (2-10) knocked the stuffing out of the South African lineup.
Agar, who has already taken a hat trick in this series, nearly had another when he had Anrich Nortje lbw and bowled Lungi Ngidi next ball.
Earlier, Warner and captain Aaron Finch, who hit 55 off 37, put on 120 in their opening stand after South Africa put them in to bat. Australia was ahead from then on.
The series win is a promising start to Australia’s buildup to the Twenty20 World Cup in October and November, which will be held in Australia.
South Africa has had a tough season. It lost test and T20 series at home to England earlier this year and drew the one-day series. With just a three-match ODI series against Australia left, the Proteas are in danger of going through a home summer without a series win in any format.
For Australia, the victory may not completely erase memories of the ball-tampering scandal but it might soften them for the team and for Warner and former captain Steve Smith, another man involved in the tampering plot two years ago and who also made his return to Newlands on Wednesday.
Smith made 30 not out in a valuable contribution at the end of the Australian innings. He hit two sixes and 20 runs off the last over. The sixes disappeared over long-on and then an extraordinary lofted drive over extra cover.
Warner and Smith were both banned for a year by Cricket Australia for their roles in the cheating in 2018 and Smith was stripped of the captaincy. They’ve been back in international cricket for nearly a year now but the return to Cape Town felt like the final step on the road to redemption.
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