DURBAN - South African middle-order batsman David Miller struck a blistering half-century, as Proteas registered a thrilling three-wicket win over visitors Australia in the first of the three-match Twenty20 International (T20I) at the Kingsmead Stadium Friday. Earlier, Australian skipper Steven Smith won the toss and elected to bat first, as they put up a challenging total of 157.

The chase began on a shaky note for the Proteas as they lost skipper AB de Villiers for an unfortunate duck of the very first ball of the innings from Nathan Couler-Nile, after being caught behind by Peter Nevill. After the opening 17 runs, it was his fellow opener Quinton de Kock, who too fell for mere seven to the same man in the third over. The sixth over saw the fall of the third wicket in the form of JP Duminy for mere five to Andrew Tye, as the score read 41 for the loss of three.

Neverthelss, it was followed by a healthy 31-run stand for the fourth wicket between Faf du Plessis and Rilee Rossouw, before Rossouw fell for 19 to fast-bowler Mitchell Marsh in the 10th over, followed by du Plessis off the very next ball for an unfortunate run out for 40. The next pair of David Miller and David Wiese added 21 runs, before Wiese fell for mere 13 off an unfortunate run out in the 13th over.

It was followed by another big partnership between Miller and Chris Morris, as the duo added crucial 39 runs, before Morris departed for eight off Coulter-Nile in the 17th over, as the score read 134 for the loss of seven. It was the final pair of Miller and Kyle Abbott that steered South Africa to the victory in the final over, while Miller also scored his half-century in the process. Coulter-Nil;e finished as the top wicket-taker for Australia with a figure of three for 29.

Earlier, Australia made a flying start before losing their way against the medium-pace of David Wiese and the leg-spin of Imran Tahir. Australia made 157 for nine after winning the toss but looked set for a much bigger total when they galloped to 69 for one in the opening six-over power play. But Wiese, who took two for 16 in a single spell of four overs, and Tahir (three for 21), were mainly responsible for Australia slumping to 114 for seven.

Mitchell Marsh gave the innings late impetus, hitting 35 off 25 balls. Opening batsman Aaron Finch slammed 40 off 18 balls. He hit four sixes, three of them off the first three balls bowled by off-spinner JP Duminy, who was surprisingly brought on during the power play. But the innings lost momentum when Wiese had David Warner caught at backward point off the first ball of the seventh over. Tahir was brought on in the next over and had Finch caught at deep mid-wicket off his first ball, a full toss. The three-match series is the last chance for both teams to decide on their combinations ahead of the World Twenty20 in India later this month.

Australia included two players making their Twenty20 international debuts ? wicketkeeper Peter Nevill and leg-spinner Adam Zampa. The tourists also included fast bowler Andrew Tye, playing in his third T20 international. South Africa surprisingly did not include fast bowler Dale Steyn, who was declared fit again after being out of action for more than two months with a shoulder injury.

Scoreboard

AUSTRALIA:

U Khawaja c Wiese b Rabada 9

A Finch c Rabada b Imran Tahir 40

D Warner c Duminy b Wiese 20

S Smith c De Kock b Wiese 6

G Maxwell c Du Plessis b Morris 17

M Marsh c Miller b Abbott 35

P. Nevill lbw b Imran Tahir 4

J Hastings b Imran Tahir 7

N Coulter-Nile b Rabada 9

A Zampa not out 5

A Tye not out 0

EXTRAS: (b2, lb1, w2) 5

TOTAL: (9 wkts, 20 overs) 157

FOW: 1-23, 2-69, 3-71, 4-91, 5-97, 6-104, 7-114, 8-149, 9-154

BOWLING: Rabada 4-0-26-2 (2w), Abbott 4-0-32-1, Duminy 1-0-24-0, Morris 3-0-35-1, Wiese 4-0-16-2, Imran Tahir 4-0-21-3

SOUTH AFRICA :

AB de Villiers c Nevill b Coulter-Nile 0

Q de Kock c & b Coulter-Nile 7

F du Plessis run out 40

JP Duminy c Finch b Tye 5

R Rossouw c Khawaja b Marsh 19

D Miller not out 53

D Wiese run out 13

C Morris c Finch b Coulter-Nile 8

K Abbott not out 6

EXTRAS: (lb1, w5, nb1) 7

TOTAL: (7 wkts; 19.2 overs) 158

FOW: 1-0, 2-17, 3-41, 4-72, 5-72, 6-95, 7-134

BOWLING: Coulter-Nile 4-0-29-3, Hastings 4-0-29-0, Maxwell 1-0-16-0, Tye 3.2-0-40-1, Marsh 3-0-17-1, Zampa 4-0-26-0

TOSS: Australia

UMPIRES: Shaun George, Adrian Holdstock (SA)

TV UMPIRE: Patrick Jele (SA)

MATCH REFEREE: Richie Richardson (WI)