David Warner powers Australia to comprehensive T20 series win over South Africa

Aussies register 97-run victory at Newlands, Proteas in danger of finishing entire home summer without series success

Cricket - South Africa v Australia - Third T20 - Newlands Cricket Ground, Cape Town, South Africa - February 26, 2020   Australia's David Warner and Aaron Finch speak with South Africa's Quinton de Kock during the match   REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
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David Warner returned to the scene of the 2018 ball-tampering scandal and played a central role in Australia's comprehensive 97-run victory over South Africa in the series-deciding third T20 at Newlands on Wednesday.

In a near-repeat of Australia's record 107-run win in the first match of the series in Johannesburg, South Africa captain Quinton de Kock's decision to bowl first backfired.

Warner (57) and captain Aaron Finch (55) powered Australia to 193-5. They then bowled out South Africa for 96, just seven more than the hosts' record low in Johannesburg.

As in Johannesburg, left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc bowled De Kock in the first over of the chase. He followed up by dismissing former captain Faf du Plessis in the third over and was named man-of-the-match after taking 3-23.

In between Starc’s strikes, spinners Ashton Agar (3-16) and Adam Zampa (2-10) knocked the wind out of South Africa's sails.

Agar, who took a hat-trick earlier in this series, nearly had another when he had Anrich Nortje lbw and bowled Lungi Ngidi next ball.

"The guys have bought into the roles they have been asked to play," Finch said.

It was the first time Warner and Steve Smith had played at Newlands since both were banned for a year after the ball-tampering scandal.

South Africa were never in the game after Warner and Finch thrashed 120 for the first wicket.

"It's quite disappointing the way we lost," said De Kock. "We have to keep our heads up and keep looking forward."

Although Finch said he would have batted first, De Kock said he would make the same decision to bowl again. He said he still thought chasing a target at Newlands was a preferred option, but admitted: "Australia were 20 runs above par."

The result extended a tough season for South Africa. They lost the Test and T20 series at home to England earlier this year and drew the ODI clash. With just a three-match ODI series against Australia left, the Proteas are in danger of going through a home summer without a series win in any format.