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  • Jason Regan

Aussies win cricket world cup opener

Australia has won its opening clash of the T/20 World Cup with a hard-fought 5 wicket win over South Africa in Abu Dhabi.

Australian captain Aaron Finch won the toss and sent in the South Africans to bat first in typically warm conditions. Josh Hazlewood extended his superb Indian Premier League form into the T20 World Cup, snagging two wickets and setting the tone to restrict the Proteas to 9-118 in Abu Dhabi.

Marcus Stonis and Matthew Wade celebrate after seeing Australia home with two balls to spare

What should have been a straightforward chase looked decidedly challenging when the victory equation was 36 runs from four overs, with set batsmen Steve Smith (35) and Glenn Maxwell (18) both departing in the previous two overs.

It would have been a new low for Australia to fall short of victory; New Zealand's inability to haul in a target of 120 against Sri Lanka in 2014 remains the lowest failed chase in this tournament's short history.

But Matthew Wade (15no) and Stoinis (24no) stood up in an unbeaten 40-run stand.

The power-hitting pair didn't panic, taking few risks before Stoinis got Australia home with two balls to spare by slapping two boundaries in the final over.

"The main thing for me there was actually trying to stay as calm as I can," Stoinis said.
"There was a bit of a feeling of 'here we go again, there's a run chase on'.
"It was good to get that one over the line."

Aaron Finch, David Warner and Mitch Marsh departed as Australia crawled to 3-39 after eight overs. Finch, who fell for a fifth-ball duck when he delivered catching practice for Kagiso Rabada at third man, admitted the chase was "quite stressful" viewing.

Proteas captain Temba Bavuma lamented his side's inability to swing momentum after Hazlewood's dot-ball deluge despite a gutsy knock of 40 from top-scorer Aiden Markram.

"Around 150, 160 would have been competitive," Bavuma said.


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