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Agar hat-trick leads Australia's demolition job of hapless South Africa
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Agar hat-trick leads Australia's demolition job of hapless South Africa

Ashton Agar took a stunning hat-trick as Australia eased to a comprehensive 107-run victory over South Africa in the first T20I at the Wanderers Stadium on Friday.

The Proteas were confounded by a top-order collapse that spiraled into a full-blown implosion as the hosts registered their lowest score in T20I cricket.

South Africa's troubles in their chase of the daunting 197-run target began with the early departure of skipper Quinton de Kock, who faltered to the pace of Mitchell Starc.

With Faf du Plessis called back into the team to stabilize the middle-order given his vast experience of playing international cricket, South Africa's time in the field failed to improve one bit in the face of regular breakthroughs.

Starc and Pat Cummins' initial incisions were compounded by the effect of Agar's destructive spell of bowling.

Agar's three wickets in succession included the scalps of du Plessis, Andile Phehlukwayo and Dale Steyn as he proceeded to add two more to his tally. His final figures read an exceptional 5-24 in four overs as the Aussie claimed just the 12th hat-trick in T20 internationals.

Agar's bowling heroics, which earned him the man of the match prize, have also resulted in Australia elevation to the top of the T20I rankings for teams.

"It was really exciting, a highlight of my cricketing life," an elated Agar later said.

The left-arm spinner's joyous run was preceded by a fruitful outing for Steve Smith in his first game in South Africa since the 2018 ball-tampering fiasco.

Smith top-scored with 45 as several batters chipped in with useful contributions to establish Australia's commanding position in the series opener.

Smith employed neat strokeplay using his unorthodox technique to pierce the gaps and pile on the misery for the Proteas bowlers.

On a day where the young pace duo of Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada was punished for erratic lines and lengths, veteran seamer Dale Steyn operated in a shrewd manner to stem the flow of runs.

He picked up two wickets across his four-over spell, reducing the damage from the opposition to an extent but his side's batsmen spectacularly disintegrated in their attempts to beat the tourists.

 

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