Sandpaper duo exorcise demons to destroy Proteas
Steve Smith and David Warner have made triumphant returns to Cape Town, as Australia trounced South Africa in the Twenty20 decider.
Walking out onto the Newlands ground for the first time since the Sandpapergate scandal in 2018, the former Australian captain and vice-captain cast those memories even further into the background with a pair of match-defining innings in a 97-run humiliation of a Proteas team at the crossroads.
Warner hammered 57 off 37 balls as part of a 120-run opening stand with Aaron Finch (55 off 37), before Smith came in at No.5 and played the part of finisher as Australia posted an imposing total of 5-193 which South Africa couldn't come close to - bowled out for a sub-100 total for the second time this series.
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Once again, crowd abuse of Smith and Warner appeared almost non-existent as the Newlands crowd watched the Australians continue to showcase why they're building an imposing case for starting World Cup favourites later this year.
The world's premier fast bowler Mitchell Starc (3-23) stopped South Africa's run chase in its tracks, knocking over go-to man Quinton de Kock in the first over for the second time this series, and then removing Faf du Plessis shortly after.
A major turning point in the game when Smith was on just six runs and had his stumps skittled by South African spearhead Kagiso Rabada in the 19th over when Australia were still a long way away from a convincing total at 4-166.
But the umpire suspected a front-foot no ball from Rabada and was proven correct on replay, with the South African overstepping by an enormous margin to save Smith's bacon.
The Australian dynamo didn't need a second invitation and peeled 20 off the last over - including two colossal sixes to help the visitors post the highest ever international T20 score at Newlands.
After Starc made the big inroads at the top, Australia's spin twins Adam Zampa (2-10) and Ashton Agar (3-15) then went to work to destroy South Africa's middle-order.
Agar claimed the wicket of danger man Rassie van der Dussen who was caught by a flying diving catch from Zampa behind the stumps as the South African attempted a ramp shot.
The West Australian almost had his second hat-trick for the series at the death, but South African No.11 Tabraiz Shamsi survived.
The heavyweight combination of Warner and Finch at the top of the order is a key reason why Australia are starting to look ominous ahead of the World Cup.
Te bruisers hammered 114 off the first 10 overs and both had 50s by the halfway point of the innings.
Australia's one Achilles heel appears to be its middle-order batting, although Glenn Maxwell is on the sidelines following elbow surgery.
Matthew Wade came out at No.3 on the back of the platform set by Finch and Warner, but, he Mitchell Marsh and Alex Carey again struggled to impose themselves on the game.
Although Marsh did clobber a key six to regenerate the innings after Finch and Warner had fallen in quick succession.