Centurion: Left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc led a strong Australian bowling performance and set up a comfortable six-wicket win against South Africa in the third and final Twenty20 international at SuperSport Park on Friday.
Australia's bowler Mitchell Starc (R) celebrates with teammates the wicket of South Africa's batsman Hashim Amla, during the final Twenty20 cricket match between South Africa and Australia at the SuperSport Park in Centurion. Pic/AFP
South Africa struggled to 128 for seven after being sent in. Aaron Finch hit 39 and Shane Watson 35 as Australia cruised to victory with five overs to spare.
Man-of-the-match Starc started with a maiden and dismissed Hashim Amla in a second over which cost only three runs. He came back later and bowled big-hitting Albie Morkel to finish with two for 16 in his four overs.
South African captain Faf du Plessis admitted South Africa were always in trouble after limping to 34 for two in the six power play overs.
"It's important to get a good start in the power play," he said. "We lost too many wickets and it's always difficult to recover."
Opening batsman Quinton de Kock, who made 41, was the only South African batsman to shine.
The 21-year-old left-hander saw his more experienced team-mates fall cheaply before he was sixth man out with the total on 81.
Australia won the series 2-0, with the first match rained off, and will travel to the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh as one of the favourites for the tournament.
"Obviously the conditions in Bangladesh will be difficult but we'll take some confidence into the World T20," said captain George Bailey, who praised his bowlers for a "fantastic" performance.
Batting conditions were not easy on a pitch which had spent much of the previous two weeks under cover because of almost continuous rain. It was slow but offered movement for the seamers and turn for the spinners.
Starc was well backed up by off-spinner Glenn Maxwell, who took two for 19, and veteran left-arm spinner Brad Hogg, who claimed the key wickets of De Kock and AB de Villiers at a cost of 31 runs.
Australia got off to a rapid start, with Finch and Cameron White putting on 43 for the first wicket before White slashed Wayne Parnell to third man off the fifth ball of the fifth over.
Australia were already well ahead of the South African scoring rate and kept the score moving quickly despite a good spell by leg-spinner Imran Tahir, who took two for 21 in his four overs.
Tahir dismissed both Finch, who made his 39 off 27 balls, and Watson, whose 35 was scored off 28 deliveries.
Both were deceived by the flight and were caught going for big hits.