Johannesburg, Oct 16: Tailenders Juan Theron and Wayne Parnell combined for a 64-run partnership in just 27 balls to steal a three-wicket win for South Africa over Australia in the second Twenty20 international on Sunday.
Theron hit 30 not out off 16 balls and Parnell 29 not out off 11 in a game-changing partnership at Wanderers to bring South Africa back from the dead and level the two-match T20 series 1-1.
No. 8 Parnell and No. 9 Theron came together with South Africa on 84-7 in the 15th over and way off Australia's total of 147-8. But Theron clubbed three fours and a six and Parnell three fours and two sixes to win the match and save the series for the Proteas.
Teenager Mitchell Marsh had made 36 off 21 balls on debut for Australia to drag the tourists to 147 in their innings after South Africa's bowlers made a strong start.
Aussie captain Cameron White hit 39 off 26 balls to start the tourists' revival after South Africa seamers Lonwabo Tsotsobe (2-11), Theron (2-28) and Morne Morkel (2-37) dominated the batsmen early on.
Australia appeared to be well on course for a series win when Proteas wicketkeeper Heino Kuhn was caught and bowled by James Pattinson (2-17) off the fourth ball of the 15th over to see South Africa slump to 87-5 in its chase, still needing 64 off 32 balls.
But at the ground where South Africa loves to play Australia—and the scene of its then world-record run-chase of 438 in a one-dayer five years ago—Theron and Parnell turned the game completely in less than five overs.
Theron—whose best T20 score before Sunday was 1 not out—began the fightback with two fours off Doug Bollinger in the 17th over.
Left-hander Parnell hit a four and two sweetly-struck sixes off spinner Steve O'Keefe as the pair plundered 18 runs off the 18th over. Theron won the game with a slog-sweep for six over midwicket off David Hussey's first ball of the final over.
In the team in place of injured opening batsman Shane Watson, the 19-year-old Mitchell Marsh hit four sixes in his quickfire innings, including three in Australia's last over, to lift it to 147-8 after it had also been in trouble at 87-5.
Opener David Warner fell for his second successive duck of the series and Matthew Wade (10), David Hussey (12) and Shaun Marsh (26) -- older brother of Mitchell—also fell cheaply.
White slammed four fours and a six, but was run out by Parnell as Australia looked to launch their late attack, and the younger Marsh's late fireworks gave the Aussie bowlers something to defend.
South Africa's stand-in skipper Hashim Amla fell in the first over of the chase.
Pat Cummins, another of Australia's impressive new breed of youngsters, blasted out Colin Ingram and JP Duminy in successive deliveries as the touring team took control and was on course for its first T20 series win since February 2010.
But Parnell and Theron turned the game with their brilliant hitting for a share of the series.
The countries will also contest three ODIS and two tests, with the one-day series starting on Wednesday.