Aussies chasing 119 to win T20 WC opener
Josh Hazlewood has extended his superb Indian Premier League form into the Twenty20 World Cup, helping Australia restrict South Africa to 9-118 in their tournament opener.
Australia unleashed Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins in the same attack for the first time in T20 cricket.
The three quicks, having prepared for this event in vastly different fashion, delivered a combined five wickets to give their side a golden chance to record a confidence-boosting win in Abu Dhabi.
Hazlewood, fresh from a starring role in Chennai Super Kings' charge to their fourth IPL title, set the tone when called into the attack after two overs.
The paceman rattled the Proteas in a remarkable two-over spell that cost just one run and featured the scalps of Quinton de Kock and Rassie van der Dussen.
The right-armer, having failed to play a single T20 international for more than four years after the previous World Cup in 2016, exhibited trademark precision coupled with IPL lessons about the ideal awkward length in these conditions.
The Proteas struggled to swing momentum after Hazlewood's dot-ball deluge.
Aiden Markram top-scored with 40 but failed to build a partnership of substance, with Cummins and Adam Zampa delivering wickets whenever South Africa threatened to steady.
The low point of a collapse of 7-70 came when a woeful mix-up between Markram and Keshav Maharaj resulted in the latter being run out for a duck.
Maharaj slipped, leaving Matthew Wade plenty of time to collect Glenn Maxwell's wide return throw and dislodge the bails.
The Proteas got off to a strong start, taking 11 runs off Starc's opening over after Aaron Finch won the toss and revealed the shock omission of Australia's top-ranked T20 bowler Ashton Agar.
Maxwell proved an inspired choice to open the bowling from the other end, clean bowling Temba Bavuma en route to final figures of 1-24 from four overs.
Zampa (2-21) and Cummins (1-17) were likewise tidy, while Starc (2-33) proved Australia's least economical bowler but captured the key wicket of Markram in the 18th over.
Finch said at the toss it was a "brutally tough" call to omit Agar, ranked sixth on the International Cricket Council's T20 bowling rankings.
Both sides took a knee prior to the start of the game in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
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