Warner leads Aussies to crushing victory
Debutant David Warner clubbed the second fastest Twenty20 international half-century ever as a new-look Australia defeated South Africa by 52 runs at the MCG on Sunday night.
Warner, who is yet to make his first-class debut, had the 62,148 fans in frenzy, smashing 89 off only 43 balls and rewriting several chapters of the history book.
He spearheaded Australia's charge to 9-182 before the Proteas, aided by 78 from 48 balls from the unflappable Jean-Paul Duminy, were dismissed for 130.
The Proteas were not in the hunt after losing wickets in each of their opening three overs as Australia bounced back from its Test series defeat earlier this summer.
But it was Warner, just the third Australian in 158 years to represent his country before making his first-class debut, who stole the show with his man-of-the-match performance.
Plucked from obscurity after several equally electrifying innings for New South Wales in limited overs cricket, Warner has suddenly become the cult hero of Australian cricket.
In just over an hour of power, Warner smashed six sixes and seven fours to be the owner of the equal fifth highest Twenty20 international score and third best by an Australian, and the sixth fastest international half-century in all forms of the game.
Only Yuvraj Singh has hit a faster half-century in Twenty20 internationals than Warner, reaching the mark off 12 balls against England in Durban in 2007.
Warner's heroics enabled Australia to set a challenging run chase despite losing 7-42 in the final 38 balls.
Not only did he upstage several of his more decorated team-mates, including Test captain Ricky Ponting, Warner showed no respect at all for several members of the Proteas attack.
Test stars Jacques Kallis, Makhaya Ntini and Dale Steyn were all in the destructive path of Cyclone Warner.
Warner showcased a high-voltage blend of traditional and unorthodox shots and, of course, a slice of luck.
His square cut off Kallis which beat gully and point was straight from the text book, while his six off Steyn's bowling, which roared some 25 rows into the stands, lifted him past 50.
He was fortunate edges flew through a vacant slip and gully area but was otherwise unthreatened.
But the Australians, who reached their 100 in the 10th over, lost momentum following Warner's dismissal in the 14th over.
Steyn was again Australia's nemesis, claiming 3-38, including the wickets of Luke Ronchi and James Hopes.
Duminy lifted the Proteas from a dire position at 3-12 after three overs with an innings which, if not for Warner's earlier in the night, would have wowed the fans.
He slashed nine fours and one six - an outrageous scoop above the wicketkeeper off Shaun Tait's bowling - but could not rescue the visitors.
His dismissal, lbw trying to reverse sweep David Hussey, all but ended the Proteas' bid for victory.
Tait, in his first match for Australia in nearly a year, bowled with extreme pace and fire.
AB de Villiers felt Tait's wrath when he fell onto his wickets after being struck on the hip.
He was in so much pain he nearly collapsed in the players' race and had to be carried into the rooms by Morne Morkel and a trainer.