A wonderful display of death bowling from Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje sealed an unlikely 12-run victory for the hosts despite David Warner's unbeaten 67.
Home skipper Quinton de Kock won the toss, and having chosen to bat first got his side off to flying start. By the time Reeza Hendricks, one of three players to come in to the side following South Africa's record defeat in the first T20I, was first man out to Kane Richardson for 14, the hosts had put on 60 runs in six and a half overs.
After the end of the Powerplay though, the scoring rate dropped, and Pat Cummins struck another blow for the visitors, sending Faf du Plessis on his way for 15 and bringing Rassie van der Dussen to the crease.
He injected some liveliness back into the batting, and together with de Kock put on 40 runs for the third wicket before the captain got too much underneath an attempted big shot off Zampa, caught in the deep for a 47-ball 70 which included five fours and four maximums. Van der Dussen was eventually dismissed with an over to go, holing out off Richardson's last ball for a 37 off 26 and leaving the seamer with impressive figures of 2/21 from his four overs.
A boundary from Pite van Biljon in the final over, as well as runs from every ball of the over, dragged South Africa to a total of 158/4.
Right from the get-go Warner took charge of the chase, scoring 28 of the opening 48-run partnership before captain Aaron Finch was bowled in the fifth over by Lungi Ngidi for 14. New batsman Steve Smith struggled to score quickly enough to get ahead of the rate, but when he was brilliantly caught by du Plessis running in from the boundary for 29, Australia were still in charge with a set batsman in Warner still at the crease, with the opener completing his 16th T20I fifty the ball after Smith's dismissal.
Alex Carey too struggled to get going. He was nearly caught by du Plessis on the boundary, but a slight overbalance from the former captain meant the Australian keeper recieved six for his efforts instead. It didn't make much difference though as two balls later Ngidi ripped out the leg stump, beginning South Africa's comeback.
Three runs from the remaining three balls of the over left the visitors needing 32 runs from the final four overs, but with Warner still at the crease that seemed an easy target. But some brilliant changes of pace and length kept the batsmen guessing as Rabada and Ngidi got through the 17th, 18th and 19th overs without conceding a boundary, as well as sending both Mitchell Marsh, victim of some more outfielding brilliance by a combination of du Plessis and David Miller, and Matthew Wade packing.
With 17 runs required from the last over, de Kock was forced to change from the pair who had been so effective in the preceding overs, though new bowler Nortje had himself conceded only 20 runs from his first three overs. The target proved to be plenty as the right-arm quick conceded just four runs, and bowling Ashton Agar for good measure, to complete an unlikely win for the home side.
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