Glenn Maxwell and David Warner smashed the form book out of the window and Australia to a series-levelling victory in a thrilling T20 International against South Africa in Johannesburg.
South Africa had won their last five completed T20 matches, while the tourists came into the game having lost five on the bounce.
There looked little prospect of an upset when Faf du Plessis’ 79 guided the Proteas to 204 for seven and Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn reduced Australia to 32 for three in the powerplay.
However, Maxwell and Warner added 161 from just 79 balls – their country’s highest partnership for any wicket in the sprint format – and although both fell late on, James Faulkner and Mitchell Marsh scrambled the visitors over the line for a five-wicket victory .
Faulkner had been the pick of the Australia bowlers with 3-28 as du Plessis, who hit five fours and as many sixes, received good support from Quinton de Kock, who made 44, and David Miller, who smashed 33 off only 18 balls.
Du Plessis hammered 20 off John Hastings’ final over before falling to a Maxwell catch on the boundary from the penultimate ball of the innings – with David Wiese carting a final six down the ground to take the Proteas past 200.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) March 6, 2016
Kagiso Rabada bowled Aaron Finch in the first over of Australia’s reply, before Dale Steyn grabbed two scalps in the last over of the powerplay.
Steve Smith was removed by a brilliant one-handed catch by Rabada tumbling backwards at third man for 19, and Shane Watson skied a short ball to JP Duminy at point for nine.
Warner and Maxwell brought up their century partnership off just 44 balls to get Australia back in the match, with Wiese sending down four wicketless overs at a cost of 58 runs.
Maxwell fell late in the piece to Chris Morris for 75 and Warner was bowled by Rabada’s first ball of the final over with 11 still needed.
But Faulkner kept a cool head and Rabada sent down a couple of wides before Marsh scrambled the winning runs off the last ball of the match.
The series decider takes place in Cape Town on Wednesday before both sides head to the ICC World Twenty20 in India.