Australia dodged a major bullet after its top-order woes turned what should have been a straightforward win into a nerve-jangling victory over South Africa at the Twenty20 World Cup in Abu Dhabi.
Marcus Stoinis was his country’s saviour, lifting his team over the line by five wickets with just two balls to spare with a steely innings at the death, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
In pursuit of a modest target of 119, Australia nearly botched their run chase after losing Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell in quick succession, the former falling to a brilliant catch in the deep by Aiden Markram.
It took a nerveless 24 off 16 balls from Stoinis and a similarly calm 15 off 10 by Matthew Wade to save Australia from what would have been a ghastly defeat.
“The main thing for me there was actually trying to stay as calm as I can and for a Greek Australian it’s pretty hard,” Stoinis said.
“You saw a bit of emotion come out towards the end, but the main thing is me and Wadey were just communicating about who was going to bowl each over, make a plan and then stay calm.”
Team captain, Aaron Finch, also commended Stoinis on his successful innings.
“It’s quite stressful. Any time you’re chasing a total and it’s coming down to the wire you’re always going to be nervous,” Finch said.
“Marcus Stoinis showed a really cool head, Matty Wade as well, to get us over the line. I think that’s what a little bit of experience can do at the back end of the innings.”
A loss would have been a hammer blow to Australia’s chances of winning a maiden world T20 title. This result, however, has the capacity to set the tone for the campaign.