Ashton Agar took a hat-trick as Australia thumped South Africa by 107 runs in the first Twenty20 on Friday, showing absolutely no signs of hesitancy in their first game back in the country following the embarrassing ball-tampering scandal of 2018.
Agar nearly had a double hat-trick when he took two in two balls later on. The left-arm spinner finished with brilliant figures of 5-24 as South Africa crumbled to 89 all out – their lowest T20 total in reply to Australia’s 196-6.
Much was made of Australia’s return two years on from the cheating episode in a Test in Cape Town that saw Steve Smith and David Warner banned for a year, and Smith lose the captaincy, in one of cricket’s biggest scandals.
Smith and Warner both playedat the Wanderers and Australia were unaffected by the buildup before a supremely efficient victory. Cameron Bancroft, the other player involved in the tampering plot, is not on this tour.
Warner was out for four on the second ball of the game in Johannesburg in a dramatic start. After that, Australia silenced the normally boisterous and occasionally hostile crowd at the Wanderers. Smith made 45 from 32 balls to top score for Australia, but the Aussies were especially rampant with the ball.
Mitchell Starc removed the South Africa captain Quinton de Kock on the third ball of the game with one that swung hugely and knocked back his middle stump.
South Africa were already struggling at 44-4 when Agar took his hat-trick in his first over into the attack.
He had Faf du Plessis (24) caught on the cover boundary off his fourth ball. Andile Phehlukwayo was out lbw next ball and failed with a DRS review. Dale Steyn edged to the Australia captain Aaron Finch at slip to complete the treble. Finch sprinted away after the one-handed catch and celebrated with a leaping high-five with Agar.
Agar’s hat trick was the 13th in T20 internationals and he is the second Australian male to do it. The former Australian fast bowler Brett Lee took the first hat-trick in T20s in 2007.
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