Australia let a promising position slip as South Africa levelled the Twenty20 series with a 12-run win in Port Elizabeth.

The tourists crushed the Proteas by 107 runs in the opening game of their limited-overs tour on Friday, bowling their opponents out for just 89.

They appeared set to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series after restricting South Africa to 158-4 despite Quinton de Kock's 70.

However, they slumped from 98-1 midway through the 13th over to finish on 146-6, well shy of a target perceived to be below par at the halfway stage of the contest.

Steve Smith stole the show in South Africa's powerplay, despite the hosts powering to 59-0 thanks mainly to the efforts of skipper De Kock.

Smith produced an incredible piece of fielding in the sixth over, catching a shot over the deep midwicket boundary from De Kock and throwing it back across the rope before he hit the ground to prevent what looked a certain six.

De Kock struck five fours and four sixes but was eventually caught at long off as Australia fought back, Rassie van der Dussen's 26-ball 37 the other primary contribution as the Proteas' early impetus petered out.

David Warner (67 not out) and Australia captain Aaron Finch put on 48 for the first wicket in 4.4 overs before the impressive Lungi Ngidi (3-41) struck.

Warner and Smith appeared in cruise control, yet both could be considered guilty of not scoring quickly enough and the latter went for 29 off 26 balls when Faf du Plessis raced in from the boundary to claim an excellent catch.

Alex Carey fell to Ngidi for 14 as South Africa's death bowling came to the fore.

Ngidi claimed his third when Du Plessis produced more brilliance in the field, parrying a high shot down the ground to David Miller to remove Mitchell Marsh, though Australia still needed just 20 off the final two overs with six wickets in hand.

Yet Kagiso Rabada drew a leading edge from Matthew Wade at the start of the 19th, during which Warner spent just one delivery on strike. 

Australia required 17 off the final six balls but could manage only four, Anrich Nortje bowling Ashton Agar as South Africa completed a fine comeback to ensure the third and final match on Wednesday will be a decider.

Ashton Agar called his hat-trick against South Africa "a highlight of my cricketing life" as his heroics gave the tourists a flying start to their Twenty20 international series.

At the Wanderers in Johannesburg, left-arm spinner Agar was the unlikely chief destroyer as he finished with figures of 5-24 in a 107-run victory.

Australia made 196-6 before bowling out South Africa for a meagre 89 in the first of three matches between the teams in the shortest format.

Agar reduced South Africa from 44-4 to 44-7, and incredibly he almost took a second hat-trick later in the innings, only narrowly missing out on bowling last man Tabraiz Shamsi after taking wickets at the end of the 12th and start of the 14th over.

"It was really exciting, obviously a highlight of my cricketing life," Agar said at the post-match presentation, where he was named man of the match.

"But my job's made a lot easier when I've got Mitch Starc, Patty Cummins, Richo [Kane Richardson] and Zamps [Adam Zampa] doing the job before me."

Agar revealed he was not at his best before the match began, but thrashing 20 not out from nine balls at the end of Australia's innings must have set him right.

"It's funny, I was actually feeling horrible leading into the game," Agar said.

The man from Melbourne found it difficult to explain why the day proved such a personal success.

Trying to pin it down, he said: "I don't know... that self-belief at the top of the mark, to just let it all out and give it your best go.

"Obviously when the wicket turns a bit, you get a bit of assistance, your job gets a bit easier and you get on a roll and keep going."

Agar saluted captain Aaron Finch for the brilliant slip catch that clinched the hat-trick, removing Dale Steyn after the spinner earlier prised out Faf du Plessis and Andile Phehlukwayo to tease the big chance.

Finch appeared more thrilled than Agar as he charged off in celebration.

"Unbelievable catch, I think he really enjoyed it as well," Agar said. "He was halfway off the ground when I looked over.

"But great catch, great team performance, good game."

Australia spinner Ashton Agar grabbed a hat-trick as he stole the show in a thumping 107-run Twenty20 win over South Africa at the Wanderers.

Two years on from the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town, which saw both Steve Smith and David Warner banned from the game, much of the pre-match focus was on the Australia star batsmen.

The duo were returning to action in South Africa for the first time since playing a part in that plot and experienced distinctly mixed fortunes with the bat, before Agar rose to the occasion.

The 26-year-old Agar reduced South Africa from an already unsteady 44-4 to 44-7 in their response to Australia's 196-6, removing Faf du Plessis, Andile Phehlukwayo and Dale Steyn, and there was no way back from there.

He remarkably later went close to a second hat-trick, finishing with career-best T20 international figures of 5-24 as South Africa were bowled out for 89.

South Africa put Australia in after winning the toss in the first game of a three-match series. Captain Aaron Finch made 42 and former skipper Smith top-scored with 45 as four other batsmen made at least 18 runs each.

Matthew Wade (18), Mitchell Marsh (19), Alex Carey (27) and Agar (20 not out) kept the scoreboard ticking over at a rapid rate, with Lungi Ndidi (37-1) and Kagiso Rabada (45-0) taking a carting.

Warner went to the second ball of the innings though, Steyn having the left-hander caught at long leg off at top edge.

Like Australia, South Africa lost an opener in the first over as Mitchell Starc bowled Quinton de Kock with a delicious delivery. But unlike Australia, South Africa did not find the rest of their batting order quite so dependable.

Du Plessis showed a modicum of resistance as chaos ensued around him, but his own dismissal was the beginning of the end for the Proteas - and the start of something special for Agar.

A mistimed shot against the left-arm slow bowler found the safe hands of Kane Richardson, before Agar secured an lbw verdict to remove Phehlukwayo.

Steyn took a lusty swipe at the hat-trick ball but only managed to find an edge and Finch took a fine slip catch, the ball hurtling his way.

Agar later bowled 33-year-old South Africa debutant Pite van Biljon at the end of the 12th over and had Ngidi caught at long-on from the first ball of the 14th, meaning that outrageously he was on the brink of a second hat-trick in the innings.

He was a whisker away from bowling Tabraiz Shamsi, but the batsman survived. Adam Zampa had the final say, bowling Rabada, but it was resoundingly Agar's day.

Jordan Petaia will miss the rest of the Super Rugby season with a shoulder injury.

The 19-year-old requires surgery after dislocating his shoulder during training in Argentina last week.

Petaia, who missed the Reds' 43-27 defeat to the Jaguares last Saturday, had scans on the injury on his return to Brisbane on Monday.

The Reds have now confirmed the wing will be sidelined for 20 weeks, ruling him out of the remainder of the season and making him a doubt for Australia's two Test matches with Ireland in July.

Petaia played only the first two rounds of the Super Rugby season last year before a foot injury left him out of action.

He battled back to fitness in time for the Rugby World Cup in Japan, where he scored a try on his Test debut in the 45-10 defeat of Uruguay in Oita.

The Reds have lost all three of their Super Rugby matches in 2020.

Temba Bavuma will miss South Africa's opening Twenty20 international against Australia on Friday due to a hamstring strain.

The 29-year-old batsman suffered the injury when fielding in the high-scoring T20 defeat to England on Sunday and will sit out the upcoming Wanderers clash.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) said Bavuma could return for Sunday's second game in their three-match series against Australia and there would be no replacement called into the 16-player squad.

"The recommended recovery time for the injury is seven to 10 days," said CSA. "He will remain with the team and receive treatment from the medical staff."

Bavuma blasted a rapid 49 off just 24 balls at the top of the order in a five-wicket loss at SuperSport Park as England sealed a 2-1 series win.

Pat Cummins is determined to play a big role in Australia's bid to win the ICC T20 World Cup on home soil.

The vice-captain has featured in just 25 Twenty20 internationals but is optimistic he can be a key performer when the tournament is held in his homeland during October and November.

Cummins features in Australia's squad for the three-match T20 series against South Africa that begins on Friday in Johannesburg.

The paceman is coming off a sticky ODI series in January against India, taking just two wickets in three games at the cost of 161 runs.

Asked how he might look to improve, Cummins told Omnisport: "There's always lots of things. The good thing is we've got a T20 World Cup this year. I haven't played a lot of T20 in the last couple of years so I'm excited for that.

"We've got plenty of games to work out a few things, but there's always something to work on."

Cummins had an early introduction to international cricket, making his T20 and Test debut at the age of 18, before injuries disrupted his career.

Now 26, each year that goes by without a major injury setback is a blessed relief.

It means that when he looks back at the past 12 months, he can point to "fortunately, more highs than lows".

"Everything has gone to plan," Cummins said. "It's been brilliant to play as much as I have, but also I've been really happy with how it's all coming out and yeah, a few series wins, it's been nice."

"The more you bowl, the more confident you feel you can just concentrate on just trying to bowl well, rather than all these different things, so I've been really lucky. It's been a good run, some big series that I've been fully fit for, it makes a big difference."

Cummins says he would be open to captaining his country in the future if the opportunity arises.

"Potentially if it came up, but I don't think that now is a time to talk about it," Cummins said. "We're in great form, the Test side, after a pretty much flawless summer and bringing back the Ashes, so we'll talk about it down the track."

Faf du Plessis has returned to South Africa's squad for the upcoming Twenty20 International series with Australia on the day he stepped down as captain.

Du Plessis announced earlier on Monday that he has taken a step back, relinquishing his responsibilities as Test and T20 captain, with Quinton de Kock, who last month took over the ODI job, poised to take over across all formats.

The 35-year-old was rested for the recent 2-1 T20 series defeat to England, as were Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje.

All three return to the fold in a 16-man group to face Australia in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town on February 21, 23 and 26.

Reeza Hendricks, Beuran Hendricks and Sisanda Magala drop out of the squad.

De Kock captains the side as he did in Du Plessis' absence against England, with the upcoming series key preparation for the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.

Independent selector Linda Zondi specifically hailed Du Plessis' experience following his return after the batsman expressed his determination to continue as a player for the Proteas.

He said: "As a selection panel, we are happy with the team that we have finalised for the Australia tour.

"We are confident that the return of Kagiso and Anrich will provide the boost that the bowling unit needs in order to return to its dangerous ways.

"The experience of Faf will add an extra dimension to the batting unit's already fledgling prowess."

AB de Villiers is not involved in this squad, although coach Mark Boucher has confirmed the explosive batsman is likely to be selected for the World Cup as long as he is in form and makes himself available.

Temba Bavuma is picked for the squad, but his involvement is dependent on the results of a scan on a hamstring injury he sustained against England.

Following the T20 series, South Africa will also play three ODIs against Australia.
 

South Africa T20 squad: Quinton de Kock (captain), Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Pite van Biljon, Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Jon-Jon Smuts, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, Bjorn Fortuin, Anrich Nortje, Dale Steyn, Heinrich Klaasen.

 West Indies Women spinner Anisa Mohammed admits the team would love some measure of revenge against hosts Australia, who defeated them on Caribbean soil before going on to claim the Women’s T20 World Cup title two years ago.

The Windies and Aussies have become fierce competitors over the last two editions of the tournament.  The regional team made international headlines after stunning the heavily favoured Australians at the 2016 edition in India, to claim their first world title.

The Australians, however, returned the favour by beating the West Indies in the semifinals of the tournament, in the Caribbean in 2018, before going on to claim a fourth title.  In five days’ time, the Australians will begin a campaign they hope will culminate in them claiming a fifth on their home soil.   Mohammed believes it is the perfect opportunity for the Windies to play spoilers.

 "We've come to win this World Cup and take it back from Australia," Mohammed, whose 118 wickets makes her the most successful T20I bowler of all time, told ICC Cricket.

"It would be nice to spoil the party. They spoiled ours, so it would be nice to return the favour,” she added.

"Australia have been doing really well. They recently played in the tri-series and came out on top, but we've been working hard ourselves.”

The Windies will begin the tournament against Thailand on Saturday, with defending champions Australia bowling things off on the previous day.

 

David Warner showed his emotion and expressed gratitude for being allowed back into the Australia set-up as he accepted his third Allan Border Medal.

Having been reintegrated to the team after his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal against South Africa in 2018 resulted in a one-year ban, Warner edged out Steve Smith by one vote to win the country's top individual prize.

He expressed his thanks to team-mates, coaches and Cricket Australia after beating Smith and last year's winner Pat Cummins to the accolade.

Warner also fought back the tears as he thanked his parents and wife Candice, who he described as his "rock and inspiration".

"I'm taken aback by this," said Warner. "It has been quite challenging. I want to thank Cricket Australia, Belinda Clark, Kevin Roberts and Justin Langer for that opportunity [to come back].

"You were really working your backsides off behind the scenes to reintegrate the three of us [Warner, Smith and Cameron Bancroft] into the cricketing family.

"Everything to get us back in there amongst the guys, taking us to Dubai, starting that way, was absolutely fantastic and the way [ODI captain] Aaron Finch and [Test captain] Tim Paine accepted us and were always in contact with us, we really appreciate that. 

"I want to thank my home club team at Randwick-Petersham for giving me that opportunity to go out there and play grade cricket. 

"I realised a lot of things during that time off that we don't actually understand or realise when we're in this bubble, the importance of what this game is and the smiles on the faces that we bring to a lot of people.

"Sitting back and reflecting upon the time I had away from the game, you don't realise the importance and effect it has on everyone. It put things in perspective.

"Getting cricket taken away from you, something you've always dreamed of, it really hurt, so I'm just extremely grateful to be accepted back by Cricket Australia, the peers and also by the fans. 

"I had mixed emotions about how I was going to be received back here at home - I definitely knew what I was in for in England and obviously in a couple of weeks' time [in South Africa]. But it's just been remarkable to come back.

"Standing here I'm just really proud to have that opportunity again." 

Warner struggled in the Ashes but otherwise enjoyed a superb year across all formats.

But he thought his woes against England would have cost him a shot at the Allan Border Medal, which only Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting have won on more occasions.

"It was a shock and a surprise," he said. "When it is that close, you really don't know so it's a big surprise to be honest.

"I had an absolutely horrendous Ashes and generally, across the Test matches, that's where a lot of the votes are polled, so I didn't think I had a chance.

"I really had the hunger and determination to come back and do the best for our team. We've been great across all three formats for 12 months, I couldn't be any prouder to stand here and receive the award."

Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara rolled back the years as Cricket Australia raised over 7.7 million Australian dollars (£3.9million) in the fundraising Bushfire Cricket Bash on Sunday.

At Melbourne's Junction Oval, a Ricky Ponting XI beat an Adam Gilchrist XI by one run, with superstar line-ups turning out in support of the relief effort.

Former Australia captain Ponting made 26 from 14 balls and West Indies great Lara plundered 30 in the 10-overs-a-side match, as the Ponting XI made 104-5 from their allocation.

In the reply, Gilchrist scored 17 before he was bowled by former Australian rules star Luke Hodge, before Shane Watson cracked three sixes in a nine-ball 30 and Andrew Symonds added 29.

Ponting, Lara, Watson and Symonds all retired to give others a chance to shine in the charity contest, which saw bowlers including Peter Siddle, Courtney Walsh, Wasim Akram and Dan Christian come in for some uncharitable treatment from batsmen.

Brett Lee's 2-11 from two overs bucked the trend, as the former Baggy Green paceman took the wickets of Gilchrist XI stars Brad Hodge and Yuvraj Singh.

Tendulkar, who was named coach of the Ponting XI, made a crowd-pleasing cameo between innings when he faced an over shared by Ellyse Perry and Annabel Sutherland.

The Gilchrist XI then needed five from the final ball of their 10 overs, but ex-Aussie rules footballer Nick Riewoldt, attempting to club a six, could only scramble a three to leave his team just short on 103-6.

Cricket Australia centred the match around its Big Appeal campaign, with television coverage taking the match to a large audience, and its fundraising was boosted by an online auction.

At least 33 people died in Australia's bushfire crisis, with wildlife taking the brunt and homes and large areas of land being destroyed.

India great Sachin Tendulkar paid "special" Marnus Labuschagne the ultimate compliment by likening the in-form Australia batsman to himself.

Labuschagne has surged up the ICC men's Test batting rankings since making his debut in October 2018, sitting third behind Steve Smith and Virat Kohli.

Tendulkar, one of the most complete batsmen in history, scored a record 15,921 runs and 51 centuries in Tests, while also topping the charts in both factors in ODIs.

The India great was impressed by Labuschagne's display in the second Ashes Test in August, when he helped the tourists earn a draw.

Asked if there any are upcoming players that remind him of himself, Tendulkar said: "There are a number of players, but I happened to be watching the second Test at Lord's between England and Australia and when Steve Smith got injured in the first innings I saw Labuschagne's second innings.

"I saw Marnus getting hit [on the helmet by] the second ball he faced from Jofra Archer and post that, the 15 minutes he batted I said, 'This player looks special, there is something about him.'

"His footwork was precise and footwork is not physical, it's mental. If you're not thinking positively in your mind then your feet don't move. So that clearly indicated to me that this guy is mentally strong. His footwork was incredible."

Former Australia head coach Michael Cheika has switched codes to take on a short-term advisory role with Sydney Roosters.

Cheika resigned as Wallabies boss after a Rugby World Cup quarter-final defeat to England last October.

The 52-year-old has been linked with Top 14 giants Montpellier, but for now he will work with the NRL champions' coaches and pass on his attacking skills expertise to the players.

Roosters head coach Trent Robinson told Sydney's Daily Telegraph: "He is helping push myself and the assistant coaches to improve and challenging our ideas and helping push us again in 2020.

"He is also a really skilful attacking style of coach as well. We are taking anything we can learn from his style of coaching and his attacking mindset.

"Cheiks loves the footy environment. He is a rugby union coach but he grew up in the Eastern Suburbs and he just loves footy, whether it’s union or league."

Cheika, a longtime friend of Robinson's, said: "Trent asked me to do some very specific stuff with a couple of the coaches and specific areas.

"He has got me on a few projects. I've loved it. I was really honoured that they thought I could contribute. I want to make sure the stuff I’m doing is contributing the way Trent wants me to.

"I've really enjoyed being involved with the lads. The coaches are fine men and the players are good lads."

 

Cricket West Indies president Ricky Skerritt has insisted the strong showing of the U-19 team at the ongoing ICC U-19 World Cup is due to a policy of deliberate investment in youth cricket.

The U-19 Windies, who won the title in 2016, are off to a strong start at the current edition of the tournament after notching wins over Australia, England, and Nigeria.  The team’s latest win, a dominant 246 runs win over their African opponents, ensured that the Windies were top of group B.

According to the CWI president, the team’s strong showing, which has taken many by surprise, is no accident.

“This administration promised that we would invest more seriously and in a more focussed and strategic way on our youth cricket and this Under-19 team is an example of what we set about to do immediately – to give them the best possible preparation going into this World Cup,” Skerritt said recently.

“They have achieved already way beyond the expectations of most people.  They beat Australia, they beat England. We are going to hope and pray that they continue on the path of improvement and performing at their best and whatever the end result of this World Cup is for them they would have made the Caribbean people extremely proud.”

Michael Hooper has relinquished the Waratahs captaincy to experienced lock Rob Simmons for the 2020 Super Rugby season.

Simmons, 30, will lead the team into next weekend's clash with the Crusaders after Hooper gave up the role he took on a full-time basis in 2016.

The Wallabies skipper said the "taxing" nature of his dual leadership positions contributed to the decision.

Kurtley Beale will serve as Simmons' deputy.

"This is something that has been on my mind, in this environment, for a good 18 months," Hooper told reporters. "It hasn't been something that's been on a whim or anything like that.

"There's much more than just leading the team out on the park.

"I went into last season fully committed to the role but also before that having question marks over my position as captain."

However, star flanker Hooper indicated he wanted to continue captaining his country under new Australia head coach Dave Rennie.

"That's a fair way away, but my thoughts and ideas around that have not changed," the 28-year-old said.

"I still do think I have a lot of growing in myself, in my gameplay and my captaincy.

"There are conversations Dave and myself will be having, I'm sure, in the future. But it's also a bit of time off, so I'm dealing with the here and now and what that will look like."

Meanwhile, New Zealand international Patrick Tuipulotu has taken over as sole captain of the Blues after sharing the job with Blake Gibson last season.

Aaron Finch was run out following a mix-up with Steve Smith as Australia lost the third ODI to India on Saturday and the captain said the pair would discuss it over a beer.

Finch rushed for a single after Smith shot to short third man but the former skipper never fully committed and Ravindra Jadeja and Shreyas Iyer combined to send the ball to Mohammed Shami, who whipped the bails off at the non-striker's end.

Although Smith went on to score a stunning 131, India limited the tourists to 286-9 in Bengaluru.

Rohit Sharma (119) and Virat Kohli (89) formed a pivotal 137-run partnership and India went on to win by seven wickets with 15 balls remaining, sealing a 2-1 series triumph.

"We haven't discussed it yet, maybe we will tonight over a beer," said Finch of the incident with Smith.

"He played an exceptional knock, he rode the momentum when he had to, controlled the innings at various parts when we'd lose a wicket.

"He really controlled that middle part which was really important to give us a chance at the back end. It was a top knock, real quality."

Australia won a five-match series in India last March 3-2 and Kohli was proud to have atoned for that defeat.

"We just want to go upwards and onwards. Getting one back given that we lost the series at home last year is really satisfying," said Kohli.

"Australia were even better than last time. There's Steve, David [Warner] and Marnus [Labuschagne]. A quality bowling attack, and really intense in the field too.

"We lost the last three in the last series and coming back and winning the last two games after losing the first one, is very satisfying."

Shikhar Dhawan had to leave the field early in Australia's innings and was sent for an X-ray on his left shoulder, which he hurt while diving in the field.

Kohli was proud of how India coped without Dhawan, who could be a doubt for their tour of New Zealand, which begins with the first of five Twenty20 games on Friday.

"We're quite experienced, Rohit and I, and we were short of Shikhar's experience," said Kohli.

"We got a good start. We expect openers of the quality of Rohit and KL [Rahul] to give us starts like that.

"When KL got out it was a tricky situation. The ball was gripping and turning a bit, and this is where experience comes in.

"We [Rohit and Kohli] spoke of stringing together a partnership and all Australia want are wickets and if we don't give them wickets we can chase seven or eight runs an over later on. We have that belief in our skill."

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