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Cummins fires Aussies to T20 win at MCG

Paceman Pat Cummins cranked up the pressure to pilot Australia to a seven-wicket win over South Africa in Friday night’s Twenty20 clash at the MCG.

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Cummins spearheaded an immense turnaround in form following the side’s seven-wicket loss in Adelaide, restricting the Proteas to a woeful total of 7-101.

It was a single run better than South Africa’s lowest T20 total.

The hosts squared the T20 series when they wrapped up a comfortable victory with 44 balls to spare in front of a crowd of 21,415.

Glenn Maxwell fell for a second-ball duck in his return, but Ben Dunk (23), Aaron Finch (44no) and Shane Watson (30) rattled off the runs with ease to ensure Sunday’s clash in Sydney would be a decider.

It’s been almost three years and far too many injury setbacks since Cummins made a memorable Test debut against the Proteas in Johannesburg.

In the space of four miserly overs that conceded 11 runs, the 21-year-old reminded everyone of his potential.

It wasn’t so much Cummins’ solitary scalp, coming from a loose shot by Ryan McLaren in the 18th over – it was the 13 dot balls.

It was the fact Cummins achieved the rarest of rare in cricket’s shortest format when he was introduced into the attack in the eighth over, sending down a maiden.

The right-armer grabbed an Australian record with his third career maiden in T20 internationals.

Doug Bollinger, James Faulkner and Cameron Boyce were also among the wickets as the home side tied down South Africa’s batsmen.

Captain JP Duminy top-scored with 49 after winning the toss, but he couldn’t form a partnership of substance with anyone.

In the space of two overs, Quinton de Kock and Rilee Rossouw were out.

Two days earlier, the pair put on a brutal 129-run partnership that powered the Proteas to a comfortable win at Adelaide Oval.

In the space of 13 overs, Australia had four wickets.

It was one more than they managed in Adelaide.

Reeza Hendricks and Farhaan Behardien were both stumped off the bowling of Boyce, the legspinner boasting figures of 2-15 from his four overs.

Boyce was responsible for Australia’s one lapse in the field, mucking up a run-out opportunity at the bowler’s end when Duminy was on 15.

It was overshadowed by the Proteas’ struggles to find the rope.

There was a stretch of eight overs during which they failed to strike a single boundary, while Duminy crashed the only six of their innings.

Cummins paid tribute to the calming influence of senior teammates.

“Having a couple of the older guys like Aaron Finch, Cameron White and Shane Watson around talking between balls was very helpful. It relaxed me,” Cummins said.

“Recently I’ve been able to go out there and bowl and not worry about anything else.

“The wicket felt like it had quite good pace in it.

“It felt like it was coming out quite nicely. I was very happy.”

Duminy suggested Cummins was “always going to be an x-factor bowler on a wicket like that”.

“He did exceptionally well,” Duminy said.

“It was difficult to score off him. He’s a very skillful bowler.”

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