South Africa vs Australia 2020: Hat-trick hero Ashton Agar stars as Australia thrash South Africa

Anuj Nitin Prabhu

Ashton Agar bagged figures of 5/24, including a hat-trick, as Australia thumped South Africa by 107 runs

Scorecard:

Australia: 196-6 (20 overs)

Steve Smith 45(32), Aaron Finch 42(27); Dale Steyn 2/31

South Africa: 89 all-out (14.3 overs)

Faf du Plessis 24(22), Kagiso Rabada 22(19); Ashton Agar 5/24

For live cricket scores and commentary click here.

Australia began their tour of South Africa on a great note as they came out victorious by 107 runs in the first T20I. The standout performer of the game was Ashton Agar, who became only the second Australian to bag a T20I hat-trick.

South Africa did not get off to a good start that was required to chase down a huge target of 197. They kept on losing wickets at regular intervals and in no time were 40-4. Agar delivered the killer blow as he picked up a hat-trick that saw the Proteas slip deeper into the hole. Kagiso Rabada's late hits did not yield much as South Africa were bowled out for just 89. Agar ended up with figures of 5-24 and handed the Aussies a comprehensive win.

Earlier, Australia were put in to bat and got off to a poor start as David Warner perished on the second ball of the innings. However, skipper Aaron Finch and Steve Smith then came together and stitched a brilliant 80-run partnership that consolidated the Australian innings. Late cameos from Alex Carey and Agar ensured that Australia scored a mammoth 196-6 in their 20 overs.

Aaron Finch, Steve Smith steady the Australian ship

After getting the intimidating David Warner early, the Proteas looked to drive home their advantage by picking up more wickets. However, Aaron Finch was joined by Steve Smith at the crease and the duo absorbed all the initial pressure. Then they began to take the game to the opposition and played their natural game.

Finch scored 42 off 27 balls which included 6 fours and a six while Smith scored 45 off 32 balls which included 5 fours and a six. The duo added 80 runs for the second wicket and laid the platform for some of the big-hitters to follow. A late cameo of 20 from 9 balls by Ashton Agar ensured that Australia reached 196-6 in their 20 overs.

Ashton Agar's hat-trick sinks South Africa

Chasing a huge target of 197 was never going to be easy and in addition to that, South Africa got off to a horrible start, being 40-4 at one point. They still had a silver lining in the form of the experienced Faf du Plessis at the crease. But Agar provided the breakthrough as du Plessis found the fielder at deep extra cover.

Andile Phehlukwayo then tried to play across a straighter ball and was trapped in front, returning back to the shed for a first-ball duck. The hat-trick ball saw Dale Steyn walk in and the plan from Agar was clear as he flighted the ball and kept it wide. Steyn fell in the trap as he tried to reach out for the ball, only managing to edge it and it was caught by a one-handed stunner from Aaron Finch.

This made Agar only the second Australian after Brett Lee to bag a T20I hat-trick. He also picked up wickets of Pite van Biljon and Lungi Ngidi to grab a five-wicket haul and ended with figures of 5-24. Other bowlers also chipped in as South Africa got bowled out for just 89, handing Australian a huge win.

Agar's brilliant cameo with the bat towards the end of the innings and his fantastic hat-trick with the ball earned him the Man of the Match award.

Here's what he said after the game:

It was really exciting; a highlight of my cricketing life. It was made easy by Starc, Cummins and Richardson bowling in front of me. Starc, at 150 clicks, induces fear in the opposition. I was feeling horrible at the start of the game. But with a bit of turn off the pitch your job becomes easy. Terrific catch by the skipper, he enjoyed it himself.