Australia clinched a six-wicket win over South Africa in the third Twenty20 to come from behind to win the series 2-1 and get a boost ahead of the World Cup in India. Australia reached its challenging victory target of 179 at Newlands after contributions from all its top four batsmen: Shane Watson made 42, Usman Khawaja 33, captain Steven Smith 44, and David Warner 33.
Australia's total of 181-4 was the highest successful chase in T20s at Newlands and the second-highest 20-over score at the ground. Australia did it with relative ease, too. After struggling with five T20 losses in a row, Australia has now won two on the bounce in time for the World Twenty20.
"Really pleased the way the guys came back after that first game," Australia skipper Smith said. "It's really tough being one down in a three-match series. I think we've found some answers. Most of the guys have played two or three games here and we've got a good squad together."
Openers Watson and Khawaja put on 76 and Warner and Smith put together the crucial partnership when they combined for 79 to keep Australia ticking in the normally tricky middle overs. Australia lost wickets in spurts, first when both openers fell to legspinner Imran Tahir in the same over, and then when Warner and Smith fell in successive overs. But the tourists recovered both times.
Glenn Maxwell (19 not out) put Australia within reach of victory with a six over the cover boundary in the second-last over when his side still needed 10 from eight balls. Australia then needed just three off the final over and Mitchell Marsh won it with a boundary past the bowler and down to mid-off with four balls to spare.
Hashim Amla set up South Africa's 178-4 with his 97 not out, a career-best for him. Amla hit eight fours and four sixes, but South Africa lost its momentum in the middle part of its innings when it should have kicked on.
Nathan Coulter-Nile took 2-32 to lead the Australian bowlers. Australia's batsmen were also impressive to chase down the score. "I thought 180 was a good score but credit to the Australians, they batted really well," Amla said. Australia opens its World Twenty20 campaign against New Zealand on March 18. South Africa starts against England. Neither country has won the 20-over World Cup.
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