Mitch Marsh has continued his blistering start as Australia's newest Twenty20 cricket captain, with a second consecutive half century to wrap up the series against South Africa with one ball to spare. Marsh belted an unbeaten 76 off 39 balls - which included six sixes - to help his side to a crushing eight-wicket win over the Proteas in Durban overnight.
The big-hitting Aussie skipper followed his swashbuckling knock of 92 not out off 49 balls in game one, with another incredible display for Australia, as the visitors cantered to victory with 31 balls to spare. Remarkably, in his first two innings as Australia's T20 captain, Marsh is yet to be dismissed, such is the dominance he's displaying with the bat right now.
The Proteas have been powerless to quell Marsh, who has racked up 168 runs off 86 balls in the first two matches. He was ably supported with the bat by Aussie opener Matt Short, who hit a quick-fire 60 runs at better than two-a-ball in what was just his second international. The Aussie pair's destructive display came after opener Travis Head fell for 18.
Fast bowler Sean Abbott was named player of the match after taking T20I career-best bowling figures of 3-22 to help restrict the home side to 8-164. However, much of the reaction from fans after the match centred on Marsh's incredible start to his Australian captaincy.
Cricket world in awe of Mitch Marsh
The skipper's extraordinary knock in the first match helped Australia seal its biggest ever victory over the Proteas in a T20i match. Marsh was also at the centre of another impressive piece of history in game two, with his 100-run stand with Short the highest ever for an Australian second-wicket partnership against South Africa in T20is.
Mitch Marsh dominated for the second straight match, and he wasn't alone either! #SAvAUS
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) September 1, 2023
Mitch Marsh in the 2 matches as Australian captain:
92*(49) & 79*(39)⚡️
- Dominating wins in both the games
- Half centuries in both the games
- Yet to be dismissed in either of the two games
- Top scorer of the match in both the games
Captain leading from the front 🔥 pic.twitter.com/bVjKKz4vn1
— Kaushik Ram (@KaushikRam25) September 1, 2023
2nd fifty in 2 games for Captain Mitch Marsh pic.twitter.com/FwT8CF05TA
— Capitals Blood (@Capitalsblood) September 1, 2023
Captain Mitchell Marsh against South Africa:
- 92* (49) with 13 fours and 2 sixes.
- 79* (39) with 8 fours and 6 sixes.
- The architect of Australia in the series win. If not the injuries, he would've been one of the finest all rounders. What a player, Mitch! pic.twitter.com/syiJkxORVq
— Mufaddal Vohra (@mufaddal_vohra) September 1, 2023
Mitch Marsh the captain has scored two fifty plus scores in consecutive games, winning both.
Quite the start.
— Behram Qazi 🇵🇰 🇨🇦 (@DeafMango) September 1, 2023
— Abhishek Gureja (@GurejaAbhi) September 1, 2023
Mitch Marsh heroics 'not surprising' for teammate
"I think the way he's playing on the park is just the way he's been playing for such a long time now," said man-of-the-match Abbott. "To Mitch's credit he's quite a level personality, certainly amongst the group.
"He hasn't changed at all since stepping into the captaincy, albeit only two games and having only been on tour for a week. Not surprised at all that he's doing really well and flourishing in his first two games as captain.
"It's really good to see because he's such a great person, such a good team man and really cares about people around him." Abbott's introduction into the bowling attack swung the match in the visitors' favour after Tavemba Bavuma blasted 35 of South Africa's first 36 runs in the first three overs.
Abbott dismissed the rampant Bavuma in his first over and Proteas captain Aiden Markram (49) in his last over. The Aussie quick has adapted quickly to South African conditions following his recent county stint playing both red and white-ball cricket with Surrey in England.
"It can take a bit of adjusting but my job is to bowl," he said. "When I'm standing at the top of my mark, I've just got to go out and do it.
"I'm quite used to that - it's part of being a cricketer, (playing) 12 months of the year. It's something I'm really enjoying." The Aussies go into tomorrow night's third and final match of the T20i series with an unassailable 2-0 lead.
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.